This will be an easy review to write because Village Theatre has asked us not to reveal the plot – and especially not the ending.
Perish the thought. Telling someone the ending to an Agatha Christie murder-mystery would be like telling someone Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father before they’ve seen the movie.
So now I have the easy job of telling you whether or not you should spend your money on “The Mousetrap” – most definitely – and talk about how good the acting was.
But how about a little outline of the story for those who might not have seen or heard of “The Mousetrap,” a show celebrating its 60th anniversary year, though it’s never been made into a film. Performances are at Everett Performing Arts Center through March 24.
The premise is a terrible snowstorm in which visitors to a guest house in England get trapped and there’s a murder. The plot weaves together the connections between the characters’ pasts and the murder and the story continues along a path of a connect-the-dots whodunit with a surprise ending – I actually heard gasps from the audience on opening night.
Keeping the murderer’s identity a secret is so critical that curtain call was interrupted so a member of the cast could remind the audience not to reveal the ending.
The story is so wonderfully woven that there are several plausible suspects among the talented cast. “Mousetrap” director Jeff Steitzer did an outstanding job of giving us choices and keeping us guessing the whole way.
Veteran and venerable actors David Pichette as Mr. Paravicini and R. Hamilton Wright as Major Metcalf I am mentioning together. I put them together in my mind because I’ve seen both as Ebenezer Scrooge in ACT Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol.”
Both were outstanding; Pichette for his boisterous portrayal of the mysterious Paravicini and Wright for his comic subtleties as Metcalf. This is Wright’s debut at Village Theatre though he has acted for 35 years. Mr. Wright, please come back again.
Ellen McLain made it easy to dislike the nasty Mrs. Boyle. And it was a pleasure to watch Jennifer Lee Taylor transform the mannish Miss Casewell into a soft-hearted female.
The proprietors of the Monkswell Manor where all this takes place are Mollie and Giles Ralston. Hana Lass as Mollie and Richard Nguyen Sloniker as Giles were both wonderful to watch on stage as their relationship turned from happy married couple, to suspicious strangers, back to happy married couple. Lass gave a particularly compelling performance.
Jared Michael Brown was superior as Detective Trotter. And I enjoyed the performance of Quinn Armstrong as the eccentric and troubled Christopher Wren. I found him amusing and quite a character. My theater companion thought he was a bit over the top.
This lovely cast performed on a set that was just lustrous (scenic designer Jason Phillips) as the Great Hall of Monkswell Manor where massive joints of wood were exposed, lush furnishings filled the living space and a hulking stone fireplace played a commanding role, not to mention a huge picture window framing a snow scene. The costumes (costume designer Deane Middleton) were also richly designed and appropriate for that period in England.
I’ve left a lot of mystery to this show but once you see it you’ll understand why. And you should see “The Mousetrap” because it’s a story that will have you gasping in the end.
“The Mousetrap” performs at various times Wednesdays through Sundays through March 24, Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett. Tickets start at $53. Call 425-257-8600 or go to Village Theatre