The second show of Community Players 88th season is Agatha Christie's most successful melodrama "The Mousetrap" which is entering its 57th year in London, having opened there on October 6, 1952 and making it the longest running show in history. The two act play takes place in Monkswell Manor Guest House, a newly converted mansion run by a couple of newlyweds, Giles and Mollie Ralston. The show opens in darkness with an eerie whistling of "Three Blind Mice", a woman screaming and then a light comes up on a radio. The audience learns there has been a murder in London, a woman, Mrs. Maureen Lyons has been killed and the main clue is the song. The police are eager to interview a man wearing a dark overcoat, light scarf and a soft felt hat. Several people enter the mansion dressed in this out fit. The Ralstons open their newly inherited home as a boarding house and become stranded during a snowstorm with a group of strangers including a spinster with a curious background, an architect who seems to be more equipped to be a chef, a retired Army major, a strange Italian man who claims his car has overturned in a snow drift and an old biddy who makes life miserable for everyone. Into their midst comes a policeman, traveling on skis. No sooner than he arrives, then the second murder takes place, leaving two down and one to go. To get the rationale of the murderer's pattern, the policeman probes the background of everyone present and rattles a lot of skeletons. Director Catherine Fox blocks her cast very well, having them move about the room as each person is interrogated. She infuses them with energetic portrayals, with wonderful accusing glances and facial expressions to keep you guessing who the killer is all night long.
Cathy is aided in her huge task by hard working stage manager, Lolly Hakeem and her assistant Stephen Healey. Her concept is used to build the wonderful two story wooden panel set built by Victor Turenne and his crew while Erika Koch designed the authentic looking 1950's costumes. She makes the show more serious so the heightened tension comes through to the audience. Not only is the direction topnotch but the acting is, too. Cathy casts the right people in these 8 roles. Daniel Kirby is excellent as Detective Sergeant Trotter. From his first entrance thru the window as the skiing policeman to the inquisition of each of the suspects, his performance will keep you on the edge of your seat. Dan recently became a member of the Screen Actors Guild. Stacey Veroni and Richard Canedo play Mollie and Giles, the newlyweds in the show. Their scenes together convey the tenderness of a young couple in love. Stacey displays the nervousness of a young bride with a secret in her past while Rich does a wonderful job as the overprotective husband. One of the biggest scene stealers in this show is Peggy Pires as Mrs. Boyle. She is topnotch as the martinet who harps on every little flaw she finds in the boarding house. Her portrayal is so well done that you want to boo her at the curtain call because she is such a vile and despicable woman. Another over the top performance is given by Tom Lavallee as Christopher Wren who says he is an architect. He spouts that he thinks Trotter is attractive, likes cooking and pays a little too much attention to Mollie. Tom also delivers the goods in a dramatic scene with Stacey when he confesses that his life was ruined by the death of his mother. The three remaining guests do a wonderful job in their roles. Lee Rush plays the mysterious mannish acting, Miss Casewell who lurks in and out of the scenes, giving accusatory glances at the others. Through her wonderful acting talents, she keeps you guessing who Miss Casewell really is until the final curtain. Rene Letourneau plays the constantly laughing Mr. Paravicini who likes to tinkle the keys of the grand piano playing Three Blind Mice which scares the other guests. Bill Whitehead who usually appears in musicals as well as directing them, plays the blustery Major Metcalf who is also harboring a secret in his past like the others. So for an edge of your seat mystery, be sure to catch "The Mousetrap" at Community Players. It will keep you intrigued all night long.