REVIEW: Avon Players’ ‘The Mousetrap’ Will Catch Audiences by Surprise

Three blind mice. Three blind mice. See how they run. See how they run.

The thespians at Avon Players Theatre are no strangers to the work of Agatha Christie, having staged her Witness for the Prosecution during their 2016 season. This time around they chose her murder mystery—The Mousetrap.

Full disclosure: I love Agatha Christie and her astute sleuths. The unassuming Miss Marple and the methodical Hercule Poirot. However, The Mousetrap has neither. But that doesn’t mean it’s not vintage Christie.

From left to right: Steve Grady as Sergeant Trotter, Kyle Bushre as Christopher Wren and Emily Locke as Mollie Ralston in Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.

As the play opens, the audience is welcomed into Monkswell Manor, a delightful and drafty English hall where its proprietors Mollie and Giles Ralston are busily preparing for guests to arrive during a blinding snowstorm. In the background, the radio reveals ominous details about a murder that has taken place in London. Then one-by-one the guests begin to arrive. First, is Christopher Wren played fabulously by newcomer Kyle Bushre. A mixture of man and child, he immediately hits it off with Mollie, played by Emily Locke, while her husband Giles, played by another newcomer Justin Kazanowski, doesn’t quite know what to make of this ‘peculiar’ person. Next, is the cankerous and pious Mrs. Boyle played expertly by Michele Colosi. Following her is Major Metcalf, a typical upper crust military man played by Kevin Curtis. Rounding out the guest list is the brusque Miss Casewell, played by the Avon Players’ third newcomer, Marie Burchi. During the arrivals, talk turns to the murder that has taken place and the description of the suspect; a man wearing a dark overcoat, light scarf, and a soft felt hat. Just when the Ralstons think they have everyone tucked in for the night, the mysterious Mr. Paravicini, delightfully played by Scott Wickson, arrives claiming his Rolls-Royce is stuck in a snowdrift, and using his charm gets the Ralstons to agree to let him stay for the night. Mr. Paravicini tells the Ralstons he is “The unexpected guest. The guest you did not invite. The guest who just arrived—from nowhere—out of the storm. It sounds quite dramatic, does it not?” Christie must have thought so because in 1958 she wrote a play titled The Unexpected Guest, about a man who runs his car into a ditch and must seek shelter at the nearest house. With all the strangers gathered inside Monkswell Manor, we start getting a glimpse into who they are and if their luggage isn’t the only baggage they brought for their stay. But wait! Are they really strangers? That’s the beauty of Christie’s plays. Her characters are always more connected than even they initially realize, and watching them interact and discover the truth is always a treat.

Front from Left to Right: Kevin Curtis as Major Metcalf, Marie Burchi as Miss Caswell, and Scott Wickson as Mr. Paracvicini
Back from Left to Right: Steve Grady as Detective Trotter, Emily Locke as Mollie Ralston, and Justin Kazanowski as Giles Ralston
Photo credit: Avon Players Theatre Facebook page

Under the circumstances (and even with Mrs. Boyle’s constant grumbling) everything seems to be going well until a phone call shakes things up. That’s because Detective Sergeant Trotter, played by Steve Grady, is on his way to discuss the murder of Mrs. Lyon—the very murder heard on the radio at the beginning of the play and a keen topic of conversation among the guests. Trotter explains a notebook was found at the scene containing the murdered woman’s address and… the address to Monkswell Manor. And just below was written: “Three Blind Mice.” In typical Christie fashion, her plot details swing almost like a pendulum; sometimes quickly and other times more slowly from one direction to another. What you think you know may not matter at all, while the seemingly most insignificant detail may turn out to be the most important clue of all. And it’s the job of the cast to aptly convey all these subtle distinctions. Thankfully, each member of this cast pulls his or her own weight masterfully. Whether it be a well-executed line, or a sideways glance thrown across a room, the audience is kept off balance just enough to maintain the suspense throughout. For this to happen, each actor must be fully committed and tuned into what is happening on stage. The three newcomers to the Avon Players stage—Kyle Bushre, Marie Burchi, and Justin Kazanowski—should be applauded for fitting in wonderfully with the rest of cast. They seemed right at home, were a delight to watch, and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of them in future productions. In fact, even though I’m familiar with the story, the whole cast had me riveted from start to finish and casting couldn’t have been more spot on. Ms. Christie may not have considered The Mousetrap her best work, but this production certainly did a fantastic job of bringing her genius to life. My only criticism comes at the play’s conclusion. An endearing facet of this play is its famous plot twist, which is one of theatre’s best-kept secrets. As such, a cast member usually steps forwards to address the audience by saying, “Now you have seen The Mousetrap, you are our partners in crime, and we ask you to preserve the tradition by keeping the secret of whodunit locked in your hearts.” This was not done on opening night. Perhaps it was a decision made by director Joy Oetjens not to include it, but dear reader, if you want to know what happens, you’ll just have to go see this masterfully acted whodunit and discover the answer yourself. I promise. You won’t be disappointed.

Tickets for all shows are $18 ($16 on Sundays for students and seniors). Call 248.608.9077 for tickets or order online at www.AvonPlayers.org. Group rates are available by calling the box office. “Like” Avon Players Theatre on Facebook for special offers on tickets. Visa and MasterCard are accepted. All seats are reserved. Remaining show dates and times follow:

  • Friday, March 17          8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 18      8:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 19        2:00 p.m.
  • Friday, March 24          8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 25      8:00 p.m.

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About Sarah Hovis

Word manipulator, arts appreciator, sports spectator, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at sarah@rochestermedia.com.

Comments

  1. Kyle Bushre says:

    Thanks for the great review Sarah. Glad you enjoyed my performance.

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