Agatha Christie’s play The Mousetrap almost goes beyond being legendary – in essence, it’s the quintessential murder mystery story. With the unique distinction of having the longest running initial run of any play in history, the show is still continuously performed on London, England’s West End – and has been since 1952. Along with its unique staying power, the show also has the pleasure of being one of the few plays in the history of theatre where the vast majority of audience members have refrained from revealing the surprise ending.
In the hands of seasoned producers like Windsor’s Martin Ouellette and Carly Morrison-Hart, The Mousetrap is almost a no-brainer – it’s got a witty script, great characters and moves quickly throughout. The duo’s new production company, Bloomsbury House, is in the middle of a two-weekend run of The Mousetrap at Sho Studios and it’s a delightful romp back to a time when we got our news from the radio and we connected with people by telephone.
A timeless tale of “whodunit,” The Mousetrap tells the story of seven strangers stranded at Monkswell Manor during a blizzard. But a police sergeant unexpectedly arrives, worried that a murderer-at-large is among the guests of the manor. Before he can investigate, one of the guests is killed, starting an entirely different investigation into the lives and histories of everyone there.
The characters in this show are absolutely delicious. Mollie and Giles Ralston (Tatum Roy and Aidan Robertson) are the proprietors of Monkswell Manor, crafting the scenery for the show. Roy was great in the role – not only does she look smashing, but she’s great at playing the innocent lodge owner. Robertson is a cutie and made a perfect match to Roy’s innocent charms. It felt like he always had something up his sleeve.
Christopher Wren (played by Emily Jones) is the first guest to arrive at the manor. In a gender twist, Jones gives the hyperactive young man a bit of dashing, but peculiar personality. He admits he is running away from something, but refuses to say what. Wren is quickly joined by Mrs. Boyle (Matt Alexander) in another gender turn, giving the cranky older woman a dose of good old pantomime.
The guests continue to arrive, brining retired army leader Major Metcalf (Jennifer Desaulniers) onto the scene. In the third, and final gender switch, she gives the older gentleman some mystery through a minimal back story and a good measure of comic relief.
Miss Casewell (Alexandra Hagen) comes on the scene and there’s no need for a gender reversal here. She’s a strange, aloof, masculine woman who speaks offhandedly about the horrific experiences of her childhood and is obviously hiding something. Hagen seemed to have fun being so offhanded. The last guest, Mr. Paravicini (Martin Ouellette) arrives in a feverish puff. With a strong foreign accent and aged with makeup, Paravicini obviously has information he’s protecting. Ouellette is pretty loud and obnoxious in the role and it’s one of the biggest delights in the show. His overpowering presentation and outlandish approach makes Paravicini the perfect murderer.
The final character to enter the show is Detective Sergeant Trotter (Callum Keane) who arrives at the manor having skied through the snow storm. Keane towers over the other cast members, giving Det. Trotter a more menacing and authoritative approach, as opposed to a mild Sherlock Holmes feel.
Bloomsbury’s The Mousetrap is a fun night out. It’s a classic tale with just enough panto-twists and gender switcharoos to make it fresh and interesting.
Catch The Mousetrap at Sho Studios (628 Monmouth Rd in Windsor) for three more performances Friday through Sunday (Feb. 21-23). For more information, visit bloomsburyhouse.wordpress.com.
All photos by Gail Robertson (Gail Now)