I had the pleasure of joining the Vagabond Players on their opening night of Agatha Christie’s famous classic who-done-it, The Mousetrap. Perhaps the Vagabond Players decided to include The Mousetrap in their 97th Season because both the Players and the play have much in common. The Vagabond Players is “America’s Oldest Continuous Little Theatre” and The Mousetrap is on its 60th year of continued performance in the United Kingdom, making The Mousetrap the longest running show, of any kind, in the world.
This play was first conceived in 1947 as a 30-minute radio piece at the special request of Queen Mary to Agatha Christie for a new play. Originally, she titled the piece Three Blind Mice, because her fascination with children’s nursery rhymes that always seemed to bind folklore with hints of the macabre. Consequently, while Christie’s play became a classic thriller, under this traditional surface lurks the suggestion of terrible tragedy.
The show begins with a dark theatre, and the only sounds are footsteps and the whistling of the nursery rhyme tune of Three Blind Mice. The whistling continues until the sound of a woman screaming in terror rips through the theatre. The lights come up on English Monkswell Manor Guest House, which holds husband and wife proprietors, 5 guests and a Detective. As the play unfurls, these eight characters find themselves stranded in a snowstorm with a murderer on the loose.
The Player’s theatre is perfect for this type of performance, and all the actors easily draw the audience into the action. I felt as if I was sitting in a comfortable, worn armchair in Monkswell Manor. Many times throughout the performance, however, I was at the edge of that comfortable armchair trying to figure out who the murderer was before another wonderful character would have to die. Ann Turiano and Eric C. Stein (Molly Ralston and Giles Ralston respectively) were completely believable as the married owners of the guesthouse, and they wholeheartedly swept the audience along though the maze of characters and possible scenarios.
The Player’s theatre is perfect for this type of performance, and all the actors easily draw the audience into the action.
Brian M. Kehoe (Christopher Wren) brought a humorous cluelessness that supplied needed laughs to break up some of the tension. Nona Porter (Mrs. Boyle) did a fantastic job of playing a stodgy old English snob.
David Morey (Major Metcalf) has a wonderful booming voice that fit well with his character. April Rejman (Miss Casewell) has the ability to be so comfortable on stage and in her role that not once during the performance did I ever think of her as anything else as Miss Casewell. Richard McGraw (Mr. Paravacini) was a joy to watch cavorting around the stage as the mysterious foreign visitor.
Last but not least is Adam Bloedorn as Det. Sgt. Trotter. As it says in the program, this is Bloedorn’s first play since his high school’s theatre program 14 years ago, and thankfully he has found his way back to the stage. When Bloedorn is relaxed on stage he is very believable and his cockney British accent is brilliant.
Overall, a very enjoyable evening! I would love to tell you who the murderer is, but to honor a longstanding tradition that is part of The Mousetrap, I wouldn’t dare!
Running Time: Approximately 2 hours with one 15-minute intermission.
The Mousetrap plays through at Vagabond Players Theatre at 806 S. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231. For tickets call the Box Office at 410-563-9135, or click here.