By Sarah Carlson, Arts Editor
ACU’s Winter Dinner Theatre, “The Mousetrap,” provides a couple of hours of entertainment and curiosity, if nothing more.
The stage is set at Monkswell Manor, a guest house outside of London recently opened by Giles and Mollie Ralston (Matt Worthington and Juliette Miller), a young married couple not as sure about their marriage as they had thought.
The guests, who begin arriving in the late afternoon, trying to beat a snow storm, are: Christopher Wren (Jay Reese), a whimsical young man who claims to be an architect, gushes over the furniture in the house and becomes attached to Mollie; Mrs. Boyle (Amanda McGee), an old spinster who critiques everything about the house and annoys everyone she meets; Major Metcalf (Josh Martin), a retired major and upstanding guy who helps out where he can; Miss Casewell (Meredith Brown), a peculiar young woman who dresses like a man and is quick to defend herself even when she’s not being accused of anything; and Mr. Paravicini (Ryan Massie), a foreigner who shows up unexpectedly after his car is stuck in the snow.
The guests go about their business, not questioning each other too much and mainly trying to avoid Mrs. Boyle, who insists on telling Mollie everything she is doing wrong in running her guesthouse. A main topic of conversation is a murder that occurred in London that afternoon, and the guests’ nerves are heightened when the police call and say they are sending Sergeant Trotter to the house to ask questions. Trotter arrives and interviews each guest in regard to the London murder because the address of the manor was found on the same piece of paper with the address of the person killed in the city, which was left at the crime scene. After the questioning, the guests wander to various parts of the house, only to be reunited again in a few minutes after a woman’s scream is heard-someone has been murdered.
Intermission began with the audience asking each other who they think the killer is, and the rest of the play is spent discovering the murderer and their motive.
New to the world of Agatha Christie, I approached “The Mousetrap” with curiosity and the desire for a good mystery. I’ve heard great things about the author and her ability to keep the reader/audience guessing along the way, and because of this play’s overwhelming success, I assumed it would be a real nail-biter.
Unfortunately for me, one of the only things I can conclude about the play is that it is entertaining and nothing more. Those looking for a quasi-thriller will find it here but will ultimately leave the theatre not caring about any of the characters and not analyzing the plot. The play originated in post-World War II London and offered a chance of escape to the city’s residents, which it still provides today. However, watching it felt like I was watching a high school production. Not to discredit the actors or director, but mainly the plot itself. Those who performed it worked with the material as best they could.
Massie and Reese steal the show, both being the most comfortable in their characters and the best comic relief, not to mention the main ones who are able to pick an accent and stick with it. McGee also performs well as the incredibly impertinent Mrs. Boyle. You can’t stand the character, which is a credit to McGee’s performance.
The set and lighting design are quite creative and add a spark of mystery when suspicions rise and the murder takes place.
Despite its flaws, “The Mousetrap” is worth your attention and can provide a needed break from the stress of the semester.
Tickets for “The Mousetrap” can be purchased by calling Ext. 2787 and the WPAC box office is open 1-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Dinner, dessert and show tickets are $25, show-only tickets are $12. Half-price rush seats are available after 6 p.m. performance day with a show-only ticket.