Spotlight: The Mousetrap

Act One, Too, Ltd.

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The program for The Mousetrap notes that the show has been playing in London since 1952, making it the longest continuously running play in history. Of course, no one has showed up in the audience for the last 20 years, but a record's a record (just kidding). The setup in this Agatha Christie work is ruthlessly claustrophobic: Mollie (Rachel Finch) and Giles (Nicholas William Leeman) are embarking on their first night as managers of an out-of-the-way boarding house. With no experience. In a blinding snowstorm. The characters arrive one by one: the young aesthete Wren (Josh Jabas) and prickly spinster Mrs. Boyle (Kristen C. Mathisen), for starters. Once everyone is assembled, the snow duly traps them inside. A call from the police leads to the arrival of Detective Trotter (Ian Miller), who informs the party that they have a murderer in their midst who is determined to begin winnowing their numbers. It all feels a bit clichéd until you realize that this play invented a lot of the standby devices that have seen us through everything from the Halloween movies to CSI. Mostly folks just sit around and talk, but the dialogue is crisp, and before long you find yourself entirely engrossed. Christie goes all postmodern with the silly Mr. Paravicini (Joel Raney), here equipped with a ridiculous accent and a weakness for propounding on his role as the mystery man who almost certainly bears some degree of guilt. The rest of the cast in this Theatre in the Round production plays it straight down the middle until the final shakeout. I'll admit to having solved the major twist before the intermission—a fair portion of the audience may have solved it sometime during the second Eisenhower administration—but perhaps that's merely Christie's legacy, having demonstrated how to wind up a mystery and set it loose. I'm still scratching my head about certain elements of the ending, but the fact that the story is worth trying to figure out is probably a compliment. And there's no butler to be found, so don't bother pointing the finger in that direction.

 
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