By Claire Duquette, for the Daily Press
Agatha Christie’s murder mystery, The Mousetrap, may have been written in 1952, but as with any good mystery, it has the timeless ability to keep you on the edge of your seat. The Northland College 4th Wall Drama Club has taken this classic and made it their own, in a fast-paced production that keeps the audience guessing until the very end.
The 4th Wall will perform The Mousetrap Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 18 at 2 p.m. in the Alvord Theatre.
Director Laura Loucks, a senior, has kept true to the original script, setting the play in post-WW II England, where newlyweds Mollie (Megan Jordan) and Giles (Trent Peters) Ralston are keeping the house Mollie has inherited affordable by letting out rooms as a guest house. They are expecting their very first house full of guests at Monkswell Manor, even as a snowstorm begins raging outside.
The nervous couple doesn’t know quite what to expect running a guest lodge and have tried to anticipate the unexpected by stocking up on canned goods. But no amount of planning could have prepared them to find themselves with their rooms full of potential murder victims—and a murderer.
As the snow piles up outside, the guests pile up inside. The first is flamboyant Christopher Wren (Alex Fischer), followed by persnickety Mrs. Boyle (Alyx Simon); dogmatic Major Metcalfe (Emily Hutler), and melancholy Miss Casewell (Stephanie Wright).
Just as the Ralstons get their guests settled, in comes an unexpected guest, the mysterious Mr. Paravicini (Logan Lowery), who claims his Rolls Royce slid off the nearby road into a ditch. He has wandered through the storm, clutching his bag, until he found Monkswell Manor.
The house full of strangers is anything but congenial. Mrs. Boyle snipes at the Ralstons for not having a “proper staff.” Wren’s child-like antics grate on Giles. Paravicini’s crazy rants have everyone curious. But when local police Sargent Trotter (Jake Anderson) skis through the storm to question the guests about a murder, the mood changes from simple irritation to deep suspicion.
It would seem a local woman has been murdered, a woman who abused the foster children she took in, leading to the tragic death of a little boy. The detective has deduced the killer is the boy’s older sibling, out for revenge. But not just revenge on the foster mother. Revenge on anyone who may have been able to help the poor boy—but didn’t. Trotter has found a notebook near the murder victim containing the address of Monkswell Manor, so reasons the murderer is planning to find his next victim there.
The guests are unwilling to believe they are possible victims—until Mrs. Boyle turns up dead in drawing room chair. It would seem Mrs. Boyle was the magistrate who sent the unfortunate foster child to live with the abusive family.
Two dead and a third to go? Who will be caught in the trap first, another victim or the murderer?
At Monkswell Manor all the guests—and the Ralstons—have secrets they aren’t willing to share.
Under Louck’s deft direction, the cast keeps the pacing on track, and the entire ensemble clicks. Jordan and Peters, as the newlyweds, are believable as young lovers who aren’t above small spats and petty jealousies. Alex Fischer is a delightfully wacky Christopher Wren, whose child-like antics hide some secrets of his own.
As the eccentric Paravicini, Logan Lowery provides comic relief. And even though she gets killed part way through, Alyx Simon’s Mrs. Boyle is a scene-stealer as the dowager you love to hate. Rounding out the ensemble is the suave detective Trotter (Jake Anderson), efficient Major Metcalf (Emily Hutler) and the dark, secretive Miss Casewell (Stephanie Wright).
Together, they put on a “Mousetrap” that will keep the audience guessing until the very end.