‘The Mousetrap’: Agatha Christie’s ripping good yarn

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

Name a mystery drama with a flamboyant gay, a strong, athletic woman dressed in men’s clothes, and a strapping young man who skis through a snowstorm to save everyone’s life. Oh, yes, and it was written in 1952. Agatha Christie (“The Queen of Crime,” 1890-1976) wrote “The Mousetrap” in 1952 and it is still running in London to this day.

The McCarter Theatre Center is presenting “The Mousetrap” at the Matthews Theatre until March 27. Everyone has been asked at the end of the play to keep the surprise ending secret so as not to spoil the play for those seeing it for the first time. From my experience at the McCarter on March 17, those who knew kept mum.

March 17 was one of the Pride Nights at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton. Touted as “Princeton’s most vibrant LGBTQ night out,” it featured an open bar where beers, wines and soft drinks are served by two beguiling bartenders, hearty appetizers catered by Chez Alice were plentiful, raffled prizes quickened the collective pulse, and for a special treat, Ms. Pissi Myles, a Philadelphia legend, hosted the event bringing style, verve and humor to all. The McCarter as a matter of course schedules a Thursday evening for each play presented for their Pride Nights. They are to be commended for reaching out to the LTGBQ communities.

Now that the awesome fete has been mentioned, on to the play. Alexander Dodge’s set design elicited gasps and hearty applause. It was perhaps the most beautiful Monkswell Manor ever created. Every production detail was superb, from the raging snowstorm on view through the grand window to the fresh, wet snow each guest threw off as they entered. Splendid, too, were the performances. We meet the young married couple, Mollie and Giles Ralston (Jessica Bedford and Adam Green), who are just beginning to run their ancestral seat as a guest house. We meet the eccentric guests: a flaming Christopher Wren (an exciting, erotically-charged Andy Phelan); dour ogre Mrs. Boyle (deliciously played by Sandra Shipley); Major Metcalf (Graeme Malcolm, stiff-upper-lip to the hilt); the apparently cross-dressing Miss Casewell (a wonderful Emily Young); the eerily creepy Mr. Paravicini (appropriately played by Thom Sesma); and Detective Sergeant Trotter (robustly played by Richard Gallagher). As with most Agatha Christie mysteries, there is exalted weather which somehow cuts off the featured band from the outside world as the hermetically sealed ensemble dies one-by-one, with an ever heightening sense of fright and anxiety until … the surprise ending. In this production, the surprise worked beautifully.

Adam Immerwahr directed the production adroitly.

The Mousetrap” will be onstage at the Matthews Theatre, in McCarter Theatre Center, in Princeton, New Jersey, until March 27.

The next Pride Night on May 12 will begin at 6 pm before the play, “All the Days,” by Sharyn Rothstein. More information about this last LBGTQ Pride Night of this season.

Blogger Ralph Malachowski and Pissi Myles


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