Monday, October 24, 2011

Experience a classic in Amana: The Mousetrap

Old Creamery - The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie is a classic theatre piece. It has run non-stop in London since 1952. Take a moment to marvel at that. No other show of any type - live performance, TV or radio - can boast such longevity on a single medium. However, Old Creamery's version of this classic only runs until November 13 so be sure to catch it before it closes.

Old Creamery's Mousetrap boasts a complex and beautiful set, instantly taking us back to 1950s England. Lovely furniture, lots of knick knacks and a large window with a realistic tree outside allow the audience to slide into the story. There's even a snow effect! Kudos to Tom Milligan, who also plays a character in the show, for the wonderful set.

Director Rachael Lindhart kept the show moving quickly, essential for a suspenseful murder mystery. Real life husband and wife Sean and Jackie McCall play the proprietors of Monkswell Manor, a guest house about to receive its first guests. As we wait for the guests to arrive, we hear about a killer on the loose and the fact that the roads will soon be impassable. It's quite clear what's coming - guests show up, someone is a murderer, and no one can leave.

There was a lot of humor in this show for all that it's a murder mystery. Sean and Jackie McCall have an easy chemistry and both create interesting and real characters from their first moments on stage. Sean McCall is particularly good whenever he is called on to add a bit of silent humor with a gesture or a scowl. James Fleming is fine as the mysterious Major Metcalf and Kay Francis commands the stage as the uptight society woman, Mrs. Boyle.

Less successful was Tom Milligan as Mr. Paravinci, a character who should elicit a lot of laughs. Milligan's one note performance obscured a lot of the humor inherent in the character. I feared two of the younger actors - Laura Ambrose as Miss Casewell and John Hill as Christopher Wren - would also deliver one note performances, but fortunately their characters came alive in the second act. When first introduced both actors went over the top with their character quirks - Casewell's masculinity and Wren's... well, wackiness - which made it difficult to believe these were real people. However, in the second act, when challenged with more serious material, both actors rose to the occasion and demonstrated nuanced performances, allowing us to care about and sympathize with their plights. Hill benefited from a strong scene partner in Jackie McCall for some of the more earnest scenes.

The ending almost always surprises first time audiences, though I did hear one person behind me whisper, "I knew it was..." as the murderer was revealed. (Note to audience members: Shhh!) I encourage you to check out The Mousetrap, a classic show that everyone needs to see at least once.

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