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L.A. Beat

Mousetrap keeps the audience guessing

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The Mousetrap keeps the audience guessing.Jeff Masson rehearses for  Sgt. Trotter. Photo By Richard Amery
 It’s been many years  since I saw a production of Agatha Christie’s mind bending 1952 whodunnit “The Mousetrap,” so I was especially eager to see what The Playgoers of Lethbridge would do with it, during their Feb. 3-6 run at the Yates Theatre.
Andrew Merrigan’s character of Christopher Wren (like the renown  architect who designed St. Paul’s Cathedral in London) summed up these characters perfectly in a succinct line in Act 1.
“I think they’re all interesting. Because you never know who they are or where they come from,” he states in his delightfully sinister yet innocent manner just as a menagerie of crazy and crazed characters come to stay at  the Ralston family’s Monkswell Manor guest house in the midst of a massive snowstorm where murder most foul is afoot.
Craig McCue, who plays Giles Ralston, captures the spirit of John Cleese’s finer moments in Fawlty Towers. His wife Mollie, played by Angela Gabert, is superb as a doting housewife, with a scary secret. I also enjoyed Christina Haska’s intense portrayal of Miss Casewell, which gets darker as the play moves along, she sits in a  chair making a noose during one of the darker moments, while Sgt. Trotter ( played by an equally intense Justin Masson) tries to figure out who murdered overbearing ex-barrister Mrs. Boyle, played by Nancy Bridal. Bridal does a great job portraying the constantly complaining fussbudget.
 Meanwhile Jeff Graham shines as flamboyant and mischievous Mr. Paracvicini, who sounds a little like Dr. Nick from the Simpsons, keeps the audience guessing and wondering if he’s the killer, not only of Boyle (especially when he pretends to swing a poker at her in one tense scene), but of another woman related to a farm where  children were sent to post Second World War, and subsequently starved and abused.
Stephen Graham plays a beautifully understated “Major Metcalf”, the ‘straight’ man of the group.
I was impressed with the production, though the actors need to project their voices a little more, they wafted off in places and were drowned out by  sound effects like a radio newscast. The set looks great and even features a portrait of Agatha Christie in the den. In addition to intense moments,  director Eric Low brings out  Christie’s tension breaking humour, be it to a couple references to the ‘No Smoking ’ sign replacing Christie’s photo, or the many different scarves of Christopher Wren.
 However, the entire cast does an exceptional job of  keeping the audience guessing, right up until the end. Check out the Mousetrap which runs tonight and tomorrow at the Yates Theatre at 8 p.m. each night. Tickets cost $20.
— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor
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