AGATHA CHRISTIE’S “MOUSETRAP” PERFECT SEASON OPENER FOR BIDDEFORD CITY THEATER

Biddeford City Theater's cast of The Mousetrap

Biddeford City Theater’s cast of The Mousetrap

October, 2014

Biddeford City Theater opens its 2014-2015 season with a perfect rendition of Agatha Christie’s murder mystery, The Mousetrap.

Welcome to Monkswell Manor, a recently converted guesthouse run by a young couple, Mollie and Giles Ralston (Rebecca and Charlie Cole) who greet an odd lot of colorful guests on their first night in business—a night challenged by a paralyzing snow storm and a nearby murder that brings fear and anxiety to all who enter.

The arrival of Detective Sergeant Trotter (Kirk Boettcher)—by skis no less (“not even a Jeep could get through”) —creates an even, heavy tension as he interrogates the suspects about their connections to the murder victim but is stymied by the guests who are not forthcoming with information.

When a second murder occurs front and center, Trotter launches into hyper investigation mode, telling all the guests that a killer is among them and one of them may be the next victim. His interrogations reveal a myriad of puzzle pieces and opportunities that initially satisfy the audience’s inner “Ahh, I know who did it” instinct. Then come the deep dark secrets and more surprises that keep the ever-twisting action flowing with intensifying angst.

Director Linda Sturdivant assembled a brilliant ensemble for this production. Each cast member turns in a masterful performance. The montage of characters is captivating. Each character is completely transparent yet they all vividly and consistently stand out—kudos to Director Sturdivant for achieving that goal.

“We talked a lot about their secrets,” said Sturdivant. “Everyone on the stage has a secret to keep. Some big. Some small. It is remembering that secret and why it is important to keep it that helps to shape the characters. It also helps enormously to have a talented cast that makes wonderful acting choices. This is an experienced cast. They were willing to take risks and play.

Rebecca and Charlie Cole easily capture the chemistry of Mollie and Giles Ralston, and bring all the nuances and subtleties of a married couple to their characters (one would swear they were married in real life). Rebecca’s acting skills come to life in Act II as she fights to maintain dignity while battling her own doubts and secrets: A classic identity struggle powerfully played out.

Andrew Lamb is flawless as the quirky, whimsical, madly interesting Christopher Wren, in and out of his character disorder with entertaining ease, all whilst keeping an edge of distrust. I kept seeing a young Red Skelton.

The perfectly horrible Mrs. Boyle is perfectly portrayed by Ellen Wassell. From the moment she stepped foot in the Manor her unrelenting amenities-vs-appearance disgust reeked, yielding a wonderful interpretation of the stereotypical whining old bitty.

Major Metcalf is well-played by Timothy James who did a great job creating suspicion before revealing his secret.

Kelsie Camire is delightful in her debut role at City Theater, as Miss Casewell. Her clear and delicate voice blended well with her slow, deliberate blocking.

Tad Williams brings energy and fun to his role as Mr. Paravicini, a slightly whacky foreigner who made a surprise visit to the Manor after his car flipped over in the snow.

At first I thought Kirk Boettcher may have been cast too young as Detective Sargeant Trotter. I soon realized I was never so wrong. He is completely effective and mesmerizing as Christie’s inquisitive young Jimmy Olsen meets the unrelenting Columbo.

Finally, the killer is revealed, the crimes are solved and the remaining secrets are exposed, bringing this theatrical roller-coaster ride to a stop but leaving the rider totally thrilled and satisfied from the experience.

So whodunit? By tradition, audiences are asked not to reveal the identity of the killer to anyone outside the theater to ensure that the end of the play is not spoiled for future audiences.

But don’t hesitate to make plans to visit Monkswell Manor (the set is quite impressive, courtesy of Set Designer and Technical Director Karl Carrigan).

Why The Mousetrap as a season opener? “I am a big Agatha Christie fan and The Mousetrap has always been one of my favorites, and I thought it would be fun to do a murder mystery in the Fall,” explained Sturdivant.

SponThe Mousetrap runs October 24th-November 2nd, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM, Sundays at 2 PM. For tickets call 207/282-0849 or visit www.citytheater.org.

In parting, here are two memorable quotes:

“At some point, we have to stop running away from things,” professed Mrs. Boyle in Act I. (No doubt lest our consciences get trapped, as easily and predictably as three blind mice).

“It won’t run that long. Eight months perhaps,” Ms. Christie once recalled in her autobiography…over 60 years and 25,000+ performances ago.

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–Louis Philippe

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One Response to “AGATHA CHRISTIE’S “MOUSETRAP” PERFECT SEASON OPENER FOR BIDDEFORD CITY THEATER”

  1. Could the person who wrote this review please contact me- we’d love to have you review our shows as well… thank you.

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