entire contents copyright 1995 by Larry Stark
by Agatha Christie Produced and Directed by Frank Annese Set Designer Carolina Tress-Balsbaugh; Light Designer Steve Cerny; Sound Designer James McCartney C A S T Mollie Ralston.......Kristen Klinger Giles Ralston............Normal Bell Christopher Wren........Jolyon Reese Mrs. Boyle........Geneva Ann Simmons Major Metcalf........Douglas Griffin Miss Caswell...Kathryn Graham-Howell Mr. Paravicini.........William Becze Sergeant Trotter.......Michael Costa Act III, scene ii, lines 241-2: KING: What do you call this play? HAMLET: The Mousetrap.
THE MOUSETRAP will probably be at Ye Wilbur Theatre for a good long while, and that's a good thing. When I saw it back on November 15th it looked like a very young stew in need of a nice, long simmer. The largely young, mis-matched, and apparently nervous cast was not yet comfortable. They had not yet relaxed enough to play with the characters, with the lines, with the audience. Director Frank Annese had not shaped and organized the ensemble scenes to point in specific directions. Hurry and flurry showed up everywhere.
But the audience had a good time; the half a dozen or more little surprises popped pleasantly in their faces, and they rolled out of the auditorium in satisfied good humor. Once the cast learns to trust the audience, they will begin to trust themselves. In another week, it will be a different, a better show.
One reason I trust them is that scenes with two people on stage were always engrossing, balanced, revealing conversations. From the young love of Mollie (Kristen Klinger) and Giles (Norman Bell) celebrating their first anniversary by opening a country guest-house, to a pair of young rebels (Jolyon Reese and Kathryn Graham-Howell) egging each other on to drive old Mrs. Boyle (Geneva Ann Simmons) from the room, these many small scenes held attention. Though everyone in this cast keeps something hidden, they are most believable when most intimate.
The other reason I expect the show to grow is that its director isn't banging off to another theatre, another city, another country. He is artistic director for Ye Wilbur, with a long-running show here in Boston already under his belt. Rather than lateralling the show to some overworked stage-manager, his authoritative eye is still available to fine-tune the play.
But the best reason to expect a long simmer for thius show is the audience itself. Ye Wilbur's rows of seats have been replaced by informal tables encouraging relaxation, and this creaky old murder-melodrama, despite its plethora of surprises, equally encourages relaxation. Once that relaxation seeps from the house onto the stage, this stew will come of age.