Directed by Jonathan Berry
At Northlight Theatre, Skokie
Mysterious, yet often funny, director Jonathan Berry infuses the classic who-done-it with playfulness
The Mousetrap, running in London since 1952 with more than 25,000 performances, is the world’s longest running stage play! It has also been considered the model for doing murder mysteries on stage. Who can argue with such success? Kudos to Northlight Theatre for mounting a spirited production of the Agatha Christie classic.
Jonathan Berry has cast a superb troupe to enact the famous murder mystery. From the young couple who just open Monkswell Manor outside of London in 1952, Giles Ralston (Keith Neagle) and Mollie Ralston (Cora Vander Broek) have things ready for their new guests despite a snowstorm. As each guest arrive the assortment of quirky characters adds depth to the possibilities as to who-done-it that promises to become quite the adventure. This production doesn’t disappoint.
From young Christopher Wren (Joey deBettencourt) the quirky hyperactive twenty-two year old who loves to cook to the old maid, Mrs. Boyle (Laura T. Fisher) a critical older woman who is pleased by nothing she observes, to Major Metcalf (Patrick Clear) a retired Army major, to Miss Casewell (Lindsey Pearlman) the strange, aloof, masculine woman who speaks offhandedly about the horrific experiences of her childhood. Is she really a woman? As the snow strands all at the Manor, a strange man, Mr. Paravincini (Joe Dempsey) arrives after crashing his car in a snow back. Why is he here?
After the wireless talks about a murder in London, the police call the Manor to announce that Police Det. Sgt Trotter (Greg Matthew Anderson) will arrive to talk to all at the Manor. What does he want? All the folks have fearful reactions to the news. Why? The atmosphere for a murder is quickly being established.
Sgt. Trotter arrives via snow skies to the surprise of all. He immediately tells of a connection between the London murder and the Manor. A possible revenge murder plot that may involve three possible victims, thus the “three bind mice” reference form the nursery rhyme. Trotter believe that one or more people at the Manor may be targeted, and that the murderer may also be at the Manor. Since all at the Manor withhold important information when being questioned by Trotter, the plot thickens deliciously as it turns into a nerve-rattling suspense. The phone line was cut, thus isolating all.
Enriched with witty humor and provocative personalities, this finely woven mystery is an edge-of-your-seat fast-paced play that both entertains and engrosses us as the ultimate final twist unfolds. We smile as the mystery is unveiled even if we have seen the play before. I believe one of the reasons that The Mousetrap has endured for 62 years lies in the clever details and rich foreshadowing that, over time, gets us to forget the details so that each time we see the play, it never fails to get us to question our previous knowledge of who-done-it. So, this production, while true to Christie’s plot, has enough well developed characters to get is to once again, wonder.
This is mainly because Berry’s cast so superbly played their characters with dedication to the little details that we question everything. I especially enjoyed the performance by Joey deBettencourt as the younger man running from something. Of course, Greg Matthew Anderson was so effective at the detective that we go with him as his investigation unfolds. This fine ensemble allowed each player their contribution added suspense and mystery to the action. Jack Magaw’s vivid set almost became another character.
So even if you have seen The Mousetrap in the past, this smart, funny and eerie production will engage you and most effectively get you to question everything as you work to solve the mystery. You’ll have as much fun doing that as the cast has trying to fool you.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: November 14, 2014
For more info checkout The Mousetrap page at theatreinchicago.com
At Northlight Theatre, 9501 N. Skokie Blvd, Skokie, IL, call 847.673.6300; northlight.org, tickets $25- $78, Tuesdays: 7:30pm (except Nov. 18 and Dec. 2), Wednesdays: 1:00pm (except Dec. 10) and 7:30pm (except Nov. 26), Thursdays: 7:30pm (except Nov. 27), Fridays: 8:00pm (except Opening on Nov. 14 at 7:30pm), Saturdays: 2:30pm (except Nov. 8) and 8:00pm, Sundays: 2:30pm and 7:00pm (except Nov. 16 and 23 and Dec. 14), through December 14, 2014