All you have to do is say Agatha Christie and I’m there. Christie is the last word in the genre of who-done-it.
The Alley Theatre currently presents Christie’s The Mousestrap, and it’s a spellbinding drama where the audience will constantly be guessing about the ending until the fateful conclusion where who actually done it is fully revealed.
Kudos to the excellent cast. Members of the ensemble bring both a physical and psychological motivation for their actions.
Perhaps not oddly, The Mousetrap is literally the longest running play in the history of modern theatre. (The play actually holds three Guinness Book of Records notations.) The original production took place at the Ambassadors Theatre in London in 1952. The still running play has occupied the St. Martin’s Theatre since 1974, and has been presented in over twenty-five languages around the world.
Christie is the most published author in the modern world after Shakespeare.
On a side note there’s a great film titled Agatha (1979) that takes place over an eleven-day period wherein Christie dropped out of sight while she was going through a separation from her first husband. With actors like Timothy Dalton, Dustin Hoffman and Vanessa Redgrave the movie acts likes a counterpoint to her myriad mystery tales.
Meanwhile, back at the Alley, The Mousetrap weaves its magic with solid direction and set decoration that puts the audience in the mindset of its post-WWII milieu.
A group of eight people find themselves stranded at a country estate during a snowstorm. One of them is a vicious killer. (Any resemblance to Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight can best be described as a tribute to Christie’s model of suspense.)
Each performer brings a physical stamp to their character. Elizabeth Bunch walks up the stairs of the house two steps at a time and maintains a rather butch stance in her line readings as Miss Caswell.
Todd Waite expertly channels eccentricity with a Italian accent and an European way of movement as Paravicinti, a stranger who show up at the house after he claims his Rolls Royce has crashed nearby in the snow.
Jay Sullivan plays the nebbish police Sergeant Trotter who shows up right as the house becomes snowbound and examines each of the occupants of the house as he has confidential information that suggests the killer is among them.
The Mousetrap is constructed with such accuracy that you suspect each member of the cast at different time during the play. When the actual killer is revealed there’s a wave of exaltation that flows over the audience.