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Silver Spring Stage The Mousetrap

By • Jul 12th, 2009 • Category: Reviews
The Mousetrap
Silver Spring Stage
Silver Spring Stage Theater, Silver Spring, MD
$18/$15 Seniors and Juniors (Friday and Saturday)
$15/$13 Seniors and Juniors (Sunday)
Playing through July 26th
Reviewed July 10th, 2009

The Mousetrap performed at Silver Spring Stage is a good ol’ fashion murder mystery set in 1950’s London. Written by Agatha Christie, The Mousetrap is the longest running production ever to be staged in London’s West End. This play was so lively and fun to watch; it successfully balanced all elements of comedy, suspense, and drama. The play answered a question I had from the very beginning; How well do you know the people you let in your house? This seems to be a question that Mollie and Giles Ralston, the new owners of a guesthouse have severely overlooked. In the midst of a snowstorm, the houseguests arrive one by one, the next one more mysterious than the last. By the time the Ralston’s ask themselves this question it has become too late.

This production was driven by strong characterization from the cast, each character embodied some sort of strange trait that made all of them suspicious. Christopher Wren, played by Taylor Kulp, was a very flamboyant character. Taylor embodied Christopher very well, although watching him can be a bit awkward at times due to his extremely tall demeanor. Laurel Green played Mollie Ralston, the naïve housewife, who is highly incapable of committing any act of transgression. Giles Ralston, played by Doug Krehbiel, gave a haunting performance. On the surface he seemed like an innocent person, but he portrayed something dark and mysterious through his eyes and facial expressions. Major Metcalf, played by Gordon Adams, was a very lovable character. Adams played Major carefree and too caught up in his own affairs to bother with nonsense. Miss Casewell (Elizabeth Replogle) was silent but vicious. She had a way of getting her point across without having to make a fuss. Mr. Paravicini (Keith Brown) was a comic relief. Due to an odd sense of humor, the others found him hard to figure out. Mrs. Boyle (Laurie T. Freed) was a wicked old woman who had to point out the flaws in everyone. Laurie had a snooty attitude that was projected very well through her voice and body. Detective Sergeant Trotter (David Dieudonne) was eager and desperate to help these people who didn’t seem to be taking the situation very seriously. The clash between personalities made for many comedic moments.

The set design was absolutely beautiful. Set Designer Andrew Greenleaf designed a cozy English home that was so detailed, I was almost sure someone actually lived there. Andrew was also responsible for producing a beautiful snowfall that fell continuously throughout the show. Due to the unique seating arrangement at Silver Spring, blocking of a show cannot be taken lightly. The blocking was very engaging, no one was ever left out or blocked out by something.

The Mousetrap murderer did a good job at fooling everyone, so much that they were booed at the end of the show! That shouldn’t be taken offensively, if anything that means they did their job well. The audience was excited and intrigued as they tried to figure out who the murderer was. If you’re looking for clues, you won’t find them here. I took a sworn oath lead by the cast to never tell the true identity of the Mousetrap murder. You don’t want to know, it will ruin the fun.

Director’s Note

Welcome to Silver Spring Stage’s final production of our 41st Season – The Mousetrap, by Dame Agatha Christie. The Mousetrap is the longest running production ever to be staged in London’s West End, with over 56 years and 23,000 performances to date.

The play takes place over a 24-hour period during a heavy snowstorm at Monkswell Manor, the recently opened guesthouse of Mollie and Giles Ralston. It opens with news of a vicious murder in London, about an hour away. When the killer flees to Monkswell, the newlyweds and their guests, with the help of Detective Sergeant Trotter, must discover the murderer’s identity before another death occurs. In the process they will unearth hidden pasts and close-kept secrets. A typical Agatha Christie, full of red herrings, The Mousetrap is sure to keep new audience members guessing “who done it!” By tradition, audience members who know the identity of the Mousetrap murderer are asked to please keep that information to themselves so that fellow audience members can be kept guessing right up to the very end.

In writing these notes, I thought perhaps it would be helpful to shed some light on what it was like to live in the UK post-World War II, when the play is set. In 1952, Great Britain still had rationing. I remember only too well going with my mother to the local food stores with our ration books. She would hand over the book and place her order, and the next day her order would be delivered to the house. In those days, everything was delivered, from the milk to the groceries to the “coke,” which was a source of fuel for the heat. I also remember how cold our houses were – much like Monkswell Manor. We did in fact have an AGA in our kitchen, just like the one Giles mentions onstage. An AGA was not only used for heating the house and the hot water, but also for cooking. The UK weather at the time only contributed to the cold: freezing winters with lots of nasty yellow/green smog that made it difficult to breathe. Even getting warm posed perils. Warming cold feet by the fire could result in nasty, itchy chilblains.

In the early 1950s, when Mousetrap was first staged, the setting effectively removed the audience from the real world outside, providing an escape from the problems that plagued Great Britain at that time. The show had its world premiere at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham on October 6, 1952 and began its run in London on November 25, 1952 at the New Ambassador’s Theatre. Six months later, it transferred to St Martin’s Theatre where it has been playing ever since.

I would like to thank the Board of Directors at the Stage for once again inviting me direct and to close out the season. I would also like to express my thanks and appreciation to a very professional cast, to a great team of designers and techies, and to Laura Aylward, our Assistant Director who provided us with invaluable insights during the first few weeks of rehearsal. Finally, many thanks to my dear friend and producer, Rich Ley, whom I nagged mercilessly in the weeks running up to opening night.

And now let us transport you to Monkswell Manor in the middle of a nasty blizzard.

Pauline Griller-Mitchell, Director

Cast

  • Mollie Ralston: Laurel Green
  • Giles Ralston: Doug Krehbiel
  • Christopher Wren: Taylor Kulp
  • Mrs. Boyle: Laurie T. Freed
  • Major Metcalf: Gordon Adams
  • Miss Casewell: Elizabeth Replogle
  • Mr. Paravacini: Keith Brown
  • Sgt. Trotter: David Dieudonné

Production Staff

  • Producer: Richard Ley
  • Director: Pauline Griller-Mitchell
  • Assistant Director: Laura Aylward
  • Stage Manager: Rob Allen
  • Technical Director: Don Slater
  • Set Designer: Andrew Greenleaf
  • Master Carpenters: Andrew Greenleaf & Eric Henry
  • Assisted by: Keith Brown, Alex Henry, Ann Marie Krainak
  • Richard Ley, Taniece Presbury, Jerry Schuchman
  • Adhesive Materials Specialist: John Greenleaf
  • Set Painting: Anna Britton
  • Assisted by: Lois Britton, Ed Eggleston, David Erickson
  • Andrew Greenleaf, Ann Marie Krainak, Tom Smith
  • Costume Designer: Sandy Eggleston
  • Lighting Designer: Jessie Slater
  • Assisted by: Bill Strein
  • Sound Designer: Nick Sampson
  • Properties: Margie Henry
  • Set Dressing: Joan Roseboom & Andrew Greenleaf
  • Assisted by: Mary Rigny
  • Special Effects (snow): Andrew Greenleaf
  • Makeup and Hair Consultant: Maggie Skekel-Sledge
  • Sound & Lighting Operators: Taniece Presbury Jim Robertson, Bill Strein
  • Running Crew: Gigi Felix
  • Photographer: Clare Palace
  • Program: Leta Hall
  • Program Cover Design: Kevin Garrett, Ryan Manning
  • Subscription Brochure: Craig Allen Mummey
  • Artistic Liaison: Christie Walser
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is currently a student in the theatre arts program at Howard University pursuing a B.F.A in acting. Her plans are to go on to grad school to study Voice and Speech. Her credits include work on and off the stage, and she can be seen in the upcoming production of The Laramie Project with the Providence Players.

One Response »

  1. Hello Courtney,

    Thank you so much for the review. As the Producer I’m delighted that you had such
    an enjoyable time looking in on Monkswell Manor.

    Richard Ley