note: entire contents copyright 2013 by Tony Annicone
2nd Story Theatre's second summer show is Agatha Christie's most successful melodrama "The Mousetrap" which is celebrating its Diamond Anniversary year in London, having opened there on October 6, 1952, 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 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 garb. 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 obtain the rationale of the murderer's pattern the policeman probes the background of everyone present and rattles a lot of skeletons. Directors Ed Shea and Pat Heganauer cast their performers wonderfully and infuse them with energetic portrayals with terrific accusing glances and facial expressions to keep you guessing who the killer is all night long.
Ed and Pat make the humor shine in this show which wins much laughter. The terrific 1950's costumes are by Ron Cesario and the gorgeous Victorian set is by Trevor Elliot with a giant bay window with a film projection of the blizzard. Leading the cast is Ara Bohigian as Detective Sergeant Trotter. He is excellent in this role running the gamut of emotions from his first entrance through the window as the skiing policeman to the inquisition of each of the suspects. His dazzling performance will keep you on the edge of your seat. Dillon Medina and Erin Elliot play Giles and Mollie, the newlyweds in this show. Their scenes together convey the tenderness of a young couple in love. Dillon does a wonderful job as the overprotective husband while Erin delivers a strong portrayal of a nervous young bride with a secret in her past. They are terrific in their roles especially when they wonder why the other was in London the day before. One of the meanest characters in this show is Paula Faber as Mrs. Boyle. She is humorous as the martinet who harps on every little flaw she finds in the boarding house. She makes Mrs. Boyle into such a vile and despicable woman that you'd like to boo her at curtain call.
One of the biggest scene stealers in this show is Ben Church as Christopher Wren. His facial expressions and line deliveries are hilarious. Christopher says he is an architect. He exclaims that he thinks Trotter is attractive, pays a little too much attention to Mollie and also claims he enjoys cooking. One of his funniest lines is that Tiny Tim is bogus. Not only is Ben a marvelous comic actor but he also delivers the goods in a dramatic scene with Erin when he confesses that his life was ruined by the death of his mother. She exclaims that everyone must face life. The three remaining guests do a wonderful job in their roles. Erin Olson plays the mysterious mannish acting, Miss Casewell who lurks in and out of the scenes, giving accusatory glances at the others. She uses her topnotch acting talents to make you keep guessing who Miss Casewell really is until the final curtain. Vince Petronio plays the constantly jolly Mr. Paravicini who likes to tinkle the keys of the piano while scaring the other guests by playing Three Blind Mice. William Oakes plays the blustery, Major Metcalf who is also harboring a secret from his past like the other guests. So for an edge of your seat mystery with splendid comic performances and direction, be sure to catch "The Mousetrap" at 2nd Story Theatre.