To think that a murder mystery that's been around for 60 years such as "The Mousetrap', currently playing at Village Theatre, could still be fresh. I mean, everyone knows who the killer is by now, right? Nope. I for one couldn't remember and from the gasps in the audience many others couldn't either. But then that's part of the enduring quality of this Agatha Christie classic, it still keeps you guessing. And the Village production is so full of fun, rich characters and, of course, red herrings that it amounts to a thoroughly enjoyable night out.
Really tough to describe it without giving it away but let me try. Mollie and Giles Ralston (Hana Lass and Richard Nguyen Sloniker) are a young couple making a go at running the guest house that Mollie's Aunt left her. It's their first night as proprietors and they have four incoming guests; the giddily distracTed Christopher Wren (Quinn Armstrong), the staunch and crabby Mrs. Boyle (Ellen McLain), the affable Major Metcalf (R. Hamilton Wright) and the stoic and no nonsense Miss Casewell (Jennifer Lee Taylor). It would be a perfectly fine first night if it weren't for a few hiccups; the mysterious stranger who shows up looking for lodging, Mr. Paravicini (David Pichette), the fact that they're snowed in, oh and that a police Detective Trotter (Jared Michael Brown) has just shown up as there is a suspected murderer in the area ... and it just may be one of them! There, I don't think that gave anything away ... yet.
Oh so amazing that the reveal of the show isn't more widely known but I guess you could chalk that up in part to that there is no movie version. And why is that? Well, the film rights to the show were purchased under the condition that a film could not be made while the show was still on the stage. And since it's become a staple of theaters around the world for the past 60 years, no one has had a chance to do it.
Too lucky for us as we now get the chance to figure out whodunit along with the talented folks at Village. Director Jeff Steitzer has melded the perfect blend of the silly with the macabre in order to make this chestnut still shine. And to assist with that he has assembled some of Seattle's finest to lead us down the garden path. Lass and Sloniker are wonderful as the young couple with secrets of their own. McLain's gruff old biddy is way too much fun. Pichette is an absolute delight as the lecherous foreigner. Wright keeps Metcalf marvelously grounded and subtle. Brown is magnificent as the frustrated detective. But my favorites of the evening had to be Taylor and Armstrong with their subtle and not so subtle portrayals of gay characters which considering the era must have been scandalous when it premiered. I especially loved Armstrong's deliciously manic Wren. Again, I can't even say too much on the performances without giving things away.
Terrific set by Jason Phillips with a real sense of the period and wonderful costumes from DeAnne Middleton make this a very fun night for the amateur sleuth in all of us. Not to mention Brent Warwick's sound design which not only conveyed the perfect tone but even managed to poke a little fun at the genre.
Even thought this may not be the most original or groundbreaking work out there and even though I can't say too much without giving away the killer (trust me, I've said enough), Village's production still shows how much fun these old mysteries can be. And there's nothing wrong with that.
Really, what more can you ask for a night out at the theater?
"The Mousetrap" plays at Village Theatre's Issaquah location through February 24th and then moves to their Everett location running March 1st through the 24th. For tickets or information contact the Issaquah box office at 425-392-2202 or the Everett box office at 425-257-8600 or visit them online at www.villagetheatre.org.