In typical Agatha Christie form, The Mousetrap, the most recent production at the Brevard Little Theatre, grabs the audience immediately and keeps them guessing until the final scene.
Known for being the most successful writer of all time and selling more books than any in history with the exception of the works of Shakespeare and The Bible (according to the Guinness Book of World Records), Christie is most famous for her mystery novels, starring detectives like Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marble.
The Mousetrap, however, centers around a group of strangers that all happen to be staying at a British boarding house during a snow storm. As one would imagine, the situation intensifies when one of the guests is murdered. Opening at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham, in 1952, The Mousetrap had the longest initial run of any modern play in history, running 58 years and over 24,000 performances.
The ensemble cast of characters includes a mysterious foreigner, a disturbed young man, a retired military Major and a quiet older woman. They, along with the newlywed couple that maintain the inn, are all under suspicion for the murder. In the BLT production, all the characters are perfectly portrayed by the actors who play them. Although the most fun roles are probably that of Parvicini (Mich Barg), Mrs. Boyle (Ann Strother) and Christopher Wren (Joseph Barcia). I also very much enjoyed the role of the good-natured police officer, played by Scott Bean.
Under the direction of Michael Wilson (who was also in charge of the lights and set) and the stage management of Liz Malone, the design and timing of this show were spot-on, making for a most compelling and challenging mystery, and totally worth the drive to Brevard.
Although Christie is obviously a master of her craft and an undeniably successful writer, I must admit that I found the plot of The Mousetrap just a bit formulaic and predictable. I did, however, really enjoy the moment when the killer was revealed and that my suspicions were correct. It’s a lot harder than figuring out whodunnit on Law & Order, where you just assume that the actor you’ve seen before is the killer. So, I suppose that mine was the proper reaction of an audience member for a mystery play, and likewise, confirms me as a born mystery-lover.
This particular show is also known for its twist-ending, which for decades audiences who’ve just seen the show have been asked not to reveal. And I cannot abide breaking tradition; so if you want to know the surprise ending, you’ll have to check it out for yourself.
The Mousetrap will be playing at the Brevard Little Theatre in downtown Brevard Friday and Saturday (June 25-26) at 8 p.m., and Sunday (June 27) at 3 p.m.