Driftwood cast clicks in Christie chestnut

  • By Lynnie Ford / Special to The Herald
  • Thursday, April 13, 2006 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

EDMONDS – The snowflakes continue to fall as the five guests arrive at Monkswell Manor, the snow piling higher and higher as if insulating them from the outside world. Today owners Mollie and Giles Ralston are hosting their first paying guests in the newly renovated mansion.

“The Mousetrap”: Driftwood Players, 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through April 30; no show Easter Sunday. $20, $17 junior/senior. Wade James Theater, 950 Main St., Edmonds; 425-774-9600, www.driftwoodplayers.com.

However, as the sounds of “Three Blind Mice” echo in the background, it’s obvious that this refuge in the snow is not as insulated from the outside world as thought. As the lights go out, the phone goes dead and bodies begin to fall, it seems one of the guests has more than keeping warm in mind at the Driftwood Players’ production of Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap.”

The Mousetrap, which opened in 1952, is London’s longest running play. Though familiar to theatergoers, it will not be made into a movie until six months after it closes in London, per Christie’s request. Consequently, for those who have not seen the play, the murderer in this mystery shall remain a secret as well.

That said, put on your Sherlock Holmes cap and begin the investigation of an old-fashioned whodunit with plenty of red herrings, a house-bound group of victims and murderers, and a police detective who skis up to the door to investigate and re-enact the crime.

The story begins with a radio announcement there’s been a murder in London and the killer is on the loose. The murderer is described in generic terms – felt hat, muffler, dark coat – much the description of the “odd and unpleasant” group – as Mollie (Jenny Dreesen) and Giles (David Bailey) describe them – spending the night at the manor. However, before the weekend is over this odd and unpleasant group, including the hosts, will come under Sergeant Trotter’s (Jeffrey Hitchin) magnifying glass of suspicion.

The guests/possible murderers/possible victims are as individual as the snowflakes falling outside. The first to arrive is the architect, Christopher Wren (David Nance). Although structure and appearances – his own, the furniture, the home – are important to him, his flamboyance doesn’t jibe with his purported career.

His arrival is followed by that of Mrs. Boyle (Rebecca Pugh Parker) and Major Metcalf (Justin Tinsley). Mrs. Boyle is a crotchety old woman who has nothing nice to say about anyone or anything, while retired Major Metcalf seems to spend an excessive amount of time in the basement.

The last two guests to arrive, before Sergeant Trotter skis up to the door, are Miss Casewell (Brandi Shepherd), an unhappy, angry young woman, and Mr. Paravicini (Adam Othman), an odd, effusive, comical foreigner whose car got stuck down the road.

As the storm wears on, the motley gathering discovers they have more in common than believed with each other and the murderer, while newlyweds Mollie and Giles find they too are in for a few enlightening surprises.

The set, the well-furnished Great Hall at Monkwell Manor, provides the perfect comfortable-yet-mysterious backdrop to the action as snowflakes fall steadily outside the French doors.

Directed by Larry Albert, the ensemble performance clicks, with each actor imbuing their character with a different edge. Though you might think you know who the murderous culprit is, in true Christie style the surprises, twists and turns will keep you guessing until the end.

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