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Countdown to Carnage, Agatha Christie style

David Bunce is not a big fan of mysteries. He doesn't like having to pay extra close attention, trying to pick up all the subtle clues that will solve the mystery.

Thrillers, though, are a different story. He likes the way thrillers are driven by the idea, Let's find out who done it or we're all going to die.

"Now it's about saving yourself," Bunce said with a laugh.

"And Then There Were None," Bunce's directorial debut at the New York State Theater Institute, is decidedly a thriller. Based on the Agatha Christie novel of the same name, the story revolves around 10 people who are invited to a remote island off England for a holiday. Upon arriving, the guests realize that none of them has ever met their hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Owens. Even more unsettling is a recorded message from Mr. Owens accusing them all of murder and sentencing them to death. One by one, the guests are killed off.

The novel was Christie's best-selling book, with more than 1 million sold. It has also proved a hit for NYSTI, earning a place as one of the theater's most popular shows.

So, when NYSTI founder Patricia Snyder asked Bunce, a veteran actor with the theater, if he ever wanted to direct, she suggested "And Then There Were None" when he said yes.

"After 26 years of doing a little bit of everything, I had a real strong interest in seeing if I could put all the ideas together," Bunce said of his motivation for trying his hand as a director.

Bunce isn't the only one fulfilling a long-standing wish in this production. Guest artist Tim Dugin, who plays Phillip Lombard, is a drama teacher at Schenectady High School. For 12 years, he has taken students to see shows at NYSTI, and he's a huge admirer of the work done there.

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