A violent blizzard looms over the East Midlands – nefariously, one might say – as a radio host reports the murder of Maureen Lyon.
A recently wed couple, Mollie (Andrea Creighton) and Giles Ralston (William Alexander Doyle) start up a guesthouse business at Monkswell Manor, and are suddenly tasked with accommodating five guests who conveniently arrive all at once.
Everyone in the household is accused of murdering Lyon. Problem is, current severe weather conditions make it seemingly impossible for a murderer to find their way to the Manor, assuming that is their desired destination, without getting caught. But then again, maybe the snowstorm is less of an issue than expected…
Originally a short radio play, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is a unique twist on the classic murder mystery, thus playing its cards at a pertinent pace. I will say that while some of it is necessary, a lot of act one’s exposition and establishment do overstay their welcome.
With that being said, the show is incredibly well cast. Each character is an archetype of a clear personality trait, but the way the characters interact and form relationships with one another suggests that they have more dimensions that are slowly being exposed, especially with regards to their backstories that are gradually revealed throughout the play. It is interesting to see how some of them start to become friends with one another, but then remember that any one of them could be the culprit, no matter how much they wish that isn’t the case.
I recommend that future audience members scan the stage and pay close attention to the facial expressions and body language of all the characters, regardless of who is speaking at any point in time, for they may give subtle clues as to how much these characters actually know about the case.
You may also find that some characters are quicker to react and express emotion than others, and the way they speak can also reveal a lot about them. All of this is especially evident in act two, which is when the plot really starts to take off.
The entire performance takes place within one setting: the Monkswell Manor. Design Coordinator Michael Galloro and Props Designer Jackie McClelland made sure to give purpose to practically every object in the guesthouse in terms of where they’re placed and how they’re used (the same can be said for certain costumes by Robyn Macdonald).
Another intriguing aspect to the set are the areas we don’t get to see, because the majority of the characters’ time is spent behind closed doors – something audience members are sure to make note of.
The soundtrack consists of ’50s jazz and swing, perfectly capturing the mystery and danger in the narrative. Mikael Kangas’ precise lighting design adds to the drama.
The Mousetrap is definitely worth a sit through, mainly for the fantastically paced events in the second act, though the production as a whole contains intelligent writing, compelling and even darkly humorous characters (save for a couple lines at the end that honestly killed the mood for me, though that’s on the writing, not the actors), and a homicide case that’ll get you to rethink everything you thought you knew about decoding criminals.
Directed by Seanna Kennedy, The Mousetrap runs until June 12 at the Lower Ossington Theatre. For more information, visit http://lowerossingtontheatre.com/.