Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Winston Churchill High School The Mousetrap

By • Feb 14th, 2011 • Category: Cappies

A snowed in mansion filled with secrets, intrigue, and a hidden murderer. A plot line so cryptic that playwright Agatha Christie had to warn audience members not to divulge its secrets to future patrons. Characters so bizarre that every one of them has a motive for murder. The world-famous mystery The Mousetrap remains the longest running play of all time, and brought its thrills and laughs to the stage of Winston Churchill High School, whose production captured the simultaneous comedic and thrilling elements of the piece while remaining consistently entertaining.

The set consisted of a solidly constructed room of walls, doors, staircases, and windows, and artfully painted with a combination of layered purple and green colors. Plush, embroidered pillows, elegant furniture, and the closed in atmosphere of the walls helped establish the intimate and peculiar nature of the play. The eerie notes of the tune to “Three Blind Mice” floated over the stage as if from a child’s music box and created a tense, creepy mood. In addition, the genuine sounds of a radio in the corner solidified and authenticated the setting. The lighting in The Mousetrap was also solid; flickering candle lights on the walls were a subtle touch that added to the old-style ambiance of the room. When sometimes they flickered on and off inexplicably, the problem was rapidly rectified and the effect was too small to be distracting. The lighting crew was very efficient when it came to cues, as they responded dependably to the characters’ turning lights on and off in the house. Woolly and neat, the costumes made by Alex Zohore were of good quality and combined uniqueness for the character and 1950’s authenticity. All of these tech elements blended together nicely to craft a backdrop for the intricate mystery to unfold before the audience.

Churchill’s The Mousetrap was uniquely portrayed by two casts simultaneously; actors would switch between exits and scenes. The charisma and energy of many of these actors kept the cogs of the story turning and entertaining. Alex Bankier, as one of the Sergeant Trotters, had tremendous stage presence and clear diction. His nuanced, steady accent made his character believable and likable. Other standout performers included Alex Cosio-Marron as Mollie Ralston, who appeared consistently honest in her portrayal, and Michael J. Mainwaring as the eccentric Christopher Wren, whose devoted physicality to the role could be both funny and frightening. Working together to bring the mystery to life, the actors created an effective buildup of energy and tension that ushered in the dramatic climax. While some actors were a little difficult to understand, the dynamism of others helped pull the entire cast through the show successfully.

All in all, Churchill’s production of the Queen of Mystery’s most famous play offered thrills and chills aplenty, and the few spots of low energy were made up for by the determination with which the cast and crew attacked the story. The talented performers and technicians kept everyone guessing until the last minute when, finally, the relentless murderer’s true and shocking identity was revealed.

by Sarah McCully of Albert Einstein High School

Photo Gallery

Monika Hammer (Mollie Ralston) and Ben Culleen (Christopher Wren) Alex Bankier (Sergeant Trotter) and Laura Sperling (Miss Casewell)
Monika Hammer (Mollie Ralston) and Ben Culleen (Christopher Wren)
Alex Bankier (Sergeant Trotter) and Laura Sperling (Miss Casewell)

Photos by Joe McCary

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