'The Mousetrap' Thrills Audiences at The Village Theatre

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Mysterious guest Christopher Wren, played by Quinn Armstrong passes his dark coat, light scarf and felt hat to Monkswell Manor's proprietor Mollie Ralston, played by Hana Lass. Photo by John Pai.
Mysterious guest Christopher Wren, played by Quinn Armstrong passes his dark coat, light scarf and felt hat to Monkswell Manor's proprietor Mollie Ralston, played by Hana Lass. Photo by John Pai.

As a huge mystery buff and an Agatha Christie fan in particular, I eagerly awaited this season’s Village Theatre non-musical offering, The Mousetrap. Christie is one of the mystery genre’s most famous authors and created such well‑loved detectives as Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple. Theaters have been staging The Mousetrap for sixty years making it the longest‑running play in history. If every staging of The Mousetrap were as good as the Village Theatre’s stellar production, the play could easily run for another sixty years. The play itself is tightly plotted, well‑paced, and quite simply above reproach.

The Mousetrap is a classic whodunit. A young couple, Mollie and Giles Ralston (Hana Lass and Richard Nguyen Sloniker), receive their first visitors to their guesthouse, Monkswell Manor. The guests include the shrewish Mrs. Boyle (Ellen McLain), the reserved Miss Casewell (Jennifer Lee Taylor), the retired military man Major Metcalf (R. Hamilton Wright), and the quirky young Christopher Wren (Quinn Armstrong). They are soon joined by a stranded stranger, Mr. Paravicini (David Pichette), as well as police Detective Trotter (Jared Michael Brown) on the hunt for a murderer. When the group becomes snowbound with a possible killer in its midst, tensions mount as suspicions and accusations escalate with no relief in sight. No one is quite whom he or she seems to be, and everyone has something to hide.

Two things make the Village’s Mousetrap stand out, the acting and the set design. The large cast, comprised of Seattle stage veterans as well as relative up and comers, was superb and without a single weak link. Lass’s performance as the compassionate and tortured Mrs. Ralston was particularly noteworthy. She conveyed humanity and humility all while keeping the play moving along. Armstrong’s portrayal of the peculiar Christopher Wren also stood out. Armstrong was screwball comedic yet emotionally fragile. He pushed the eccentric aspect to the limit but always reeled it back in just when you thought he would go too far, and then he would reveal his vulnerable side to get the audience firmly back in his corner. He completely disappeared into his character and left everything he had on the stage.

Jason Phillips’s set design was a masterpiece. The rich woods, high doors, and stained glass windows perfectly depicted an English countryside manor. Just seeing it would make even the biggest couch potato want to jet off to England to spend a week in a rural guesthouse if it were not filled with murder suspects, lunatics, and disagreeable guests.

Don’t miss this production of The Mousetrap. I cannot recommend it highly enough. The Mousetrap is on stage now at the Village Theatre in Issaquah through February 24, 2013 before moving to the Everett Performing Arts Center where it will run from March 1-24, 2013.

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