Our play opens with a murder most foul while deathly screams ring through the completely darkened theatre. Delicious. Then we're taken to a country inn, Monkswell Manor, where in the midst of a blizzard a sweet young couple is deep in preparations for their very first guests. Mollie Ralston played by Ellen Adair and Giles Ralston played by William Connell are the epitome of young love, working together to bring a reputable business out of an ancient manor house; but secrets may just tear them apart.
First to arrive at the inn is Sean Mellott as Christopher Wren, an unbelievably manic young man who throws himself about, jumps on the furniture, and is given to bursts of maniacal laughter. I found his behavior most annoying and I wish director Paul Mason Barnes would have him take it down just a notch. I'm convinced Mr. Mellot is a fine actor but being a bit more subtle would have made me so much happier.
Second on the menu is Mrs. Boyle played to perfection by character actress Darrie Lawrence. Mrs. Boyle is a discontented old cow who nit picks and complains about everything from the age and inexperience of the innkeepers to the temperature in the draughty old house.
Next in line is Major Metcalf played by Michael James Reed. The Major smokes a pipe, blusters, and seems completely unconcerned about the potential dangers of having had a murderer in town just a few short hours ago.
Enter then Miss Casewell, played by Tarah Flanagan. Miss Casewell is a decidedly unorthodox young woman for the times, dressing in trousers and a vest. She's trim and attractive but seems a bit brisk and is definitely watching everything and everyone.
And last but not least is Mr. Paravicini who asks for lodging because his car, he says, slid into a snow bank. But did it? He's a suspicious character from the beginning, seeming to know more than he's letting on. Larry Paulson's Mr. Paravicini seems to be a cross between Snidley Whiplash and Steve Martin's "wild and crazy guy". With all due respect, less is more Mr. Paulson.
Another unexpected guest young Detective Sergeant Trotter arrives on the scene, having skied to the inn over the impassable roads. Trotter, played by Christian Pedersen, is a pleasant young man who looks smashing in the tan trousers and black sweater of an English Sargeant, but whose armor may not be so shiny as one would expect.
When Monkswell Manor itself becomes a crime scene, secrets begin to crawl out of the woodwork and a murderer lurks in the shadowy halls. "The Mousetrap" is definitive Christie, and though some of the play is long and wordy, it is to be remembered that the dialogue and pace are that of a long ago time.
The Rep have created a lovely little slice of nostalgia and if even one person seeing this production becomes an Agatha Christie fan, well, the Mother of the Mystery will live on and on.