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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

The Mousetrap is Rickety, the Production Sublime
at Village Theatre

Also see David's review of Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Mousetrap
Quinn Armstrong and Hana Lass
Dame Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, now and (seemingly) forever in London's West End (sixty years and counting), is this year's single non-musical at Village Theatre. I'd never seen it, so I was rather intrigued, and though a dustier and mustier mystery script as you'll ever come across, it is rendered delightful by director Jeff Steitzer and an altogether ace company.

A typically motley assortment of guests are snowed in at England's Monkswell Manor, a secluded guest lodge recently inherited and now managed by an attractive young newlywed couple Mollie and Giles Ralston, who are among those suspected by Detective Trotter in a case of murder most foul(loosely suggested by an ugly, real-life crime reported from the English countryside in 1945). Said guests include an effete supposed architect named Christopher Wren, who would have been charitably referred to as a "Nancy Boy" in Dame Christie's heyday; the dry and mannish Miss Casewell; the snooty Grande dame Mrs. Boyle, tweedy Major Metcalf, and the rather theatrical Mr. Paravicini (one of those chaps with a geographically untraceable European accent). By the end of act one, the most obnoxious of these folks has been offed, and everyone suspects everyone, even the young Ralstons who are hiding things from one another.

I wouldn't dream of giving away any more than that as far as the plot goes, but really, under Steitzer's sprightly, tongue-in-cheek direction, the players, not the play, are the thing that keeps The Mousetrap from being, well, cheesy. Old-school Seattle pros David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright, as Paravicini and Major Metcalf respectively, give accomplished and amusingly droll performances. Ellen McClain savors every moment of playing the venomous old bag Mrs. Doyle in her best Maggie Smith/"Downton Abbey" mode. Hana Lass and Richard Nguyen Sloniker complement each other charmingly as benighted lodge-keepers. Jared Michael Brown is solid as the stoic Detective, while Jennifer Lee Taylor perhaps best captures the style of the era as the solemn Miss Casewell. The new face in the cast, and the unabashed scene stealer, is Quinn Armstrong as the flighty Wren. The role is a jewel and Armstrong gives it all the polish and flair required.

Monkswell Manor is beautifully realized in Jason Phillips' handsome and detailed scenic design, and Deanne Middleton delivers costumes that ideally capture the bygone era of the piece. Maybe it's time for some adroit filmmaker to finally capture The Mousetrap on celluloid, if they can get around a provision that says it cannot be filmed until the West End run ends. One can only smile at the thought of the likes of Alan Cumming, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth and, of course, Maggie Smith meandering through Monkswell Manor!

The Mousetrap runs at Village Theatre in Issaquah location through February 24th and then moves to the Everett Performing Arts Center from March 1st through the 24th. For tickets or information contact the Issaquah box office at 425-392-2202 or the Everett box office at 425-257-8600 or visit them online at www.villagetheatre.org.


Photo: by John Pai



- David Edward Hughes



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