What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon that in the company of one of England’s most beloved of authors!
Agatha Christie is an icon, if sometimes a little dated. But at Crown City Theatre her vintage is charming rather than old hat and “The Mousetrap” is absolutely one of her most enigmatic and celebrated works.
Written originally as a play for radio and then adapted into a short story, Christie asked that the story never be published in England while the play ran in the West End, which it has done continuously since 1952 - by far the longest-running play in the world. She also forbad a film version, until after the play closed. The famous twist ending has to be the best kept and yet the most widely known secret in the world by now!
This production is wonderfully loyal to the original. It's set in 1952 in an old English country house in the dead of winter. The young owners of the house have turned it into a guest house and this is the inaugural weekend of their new business. A group of seemingly disparate people arrive one by one, fighting their way through the rapidly falling snow. Once all the expected guests have arrived, along with one unexpected guest whose car is buried in a snow drift nearby, the snowfall becomes more intense and they are all soon officially trapped. Snowed in…
Fortunately, there are plenty of supplies and wood for the fires so the guests settled in to the kind of routine only the English can create out of necessity. Of course, there is a murder and once the police are called the phone lines are then cut to add further mystery to the madness. A lone policeman manages to reach the house on his cross-country skis and the investigation begins.
It’s a brilliant piece of classic Christie, all “Oh I say’s” and “I’d rather not, thank you’s.” I felt quite at home! Agatha Christie can be a bit of a struggle to do well. It seems simple enough but there’s a fine line between farce and fiction and this play is definitely not intended to be a farce.
It’s actually based around a true account of two young boys who were badly abused by their foster parents, one of them died and Christie created the story around the people who she imagined were most deeply affected by the crime. The myriad of characters, people you would never imagine to be in the same room together, are all related to that sad case. But that is all I will tell you. The secrets that were written over 60 years ago will stay secret, at least that is until you buy your ticket and see this brilliant and charming adaptation for yourselves.
The performances are funny, sweet, poignant and memorable. The accents are really pretty good too, which was a relief. All these actors are exceedingly well suited to their roles and clearly having a ball playing them. Crown City can always be relied upon to give everything they do great heart and tremendous passion and “The Mousetrap” is no exception. It has a lovely vintage feel, the setting, the wardrobe, the attention to detail in hair and makeup. It’s all beautifully thoughtful. I must admit to having never seen the play before and so I was thoroughly surprised by the twist. It seems bizarre that a secret can be kept so well for so long. It’s one of those unspoken rules of the theatre…never reveal the ending of “The Mousetrap” and I can tell you that all that effort has been worth it!
I highly recommend “The Mousetrap” at Crown City Theatre. Bravo! I think they should have a dress up night where everyone goes as their favorite Agatha Christie characters! There would be acres of glorious Hercule Poirots and Miss Marples I’m sure. This is not a long run unfortunately so don’t hang about…get your tickets now!!
Extends through December 30!
Friday & Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 3pm
Crown City Theatre, 11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood, 91602
Mollie Ralston - Nathalie Rudolph/Laura Hartley
Giles Ralston - Bobby Slaski/Neil Unger
Christopher Wren - Peter Mastne/Michael Marchak
Mrs. Boyle - Mouchette van Helsdingen/Heidi Mendez
Major Metcalf - Glenn Ratcliffe
Miss Casewell - Riegan Sage/Olivia Saccomanno
Mr. Paravicini- Michael Mullen/Martin Sottile
Detective Sergeant Trotter- Hans Obma/Blake Adams