Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’ Provides

Members of the Theatre Palisades production of “The Mousetrap” include (left to right) Peggy Flood, Carl Meyer-Curtis, Grace O’Neill, Michael Coleman, Benjamin Orf, Michael Bernstein, Mark Fields Davidson and Antonia Czinger.                  Photo: Joy Daunis

Entertaining Evening at Pierson Playhouse

 Mystery buffs and residents who like to solve puzzles, put on your thinking caps and be prepared to be entertained as you try to deduct “who did it” in “The Mousetrap,” a Theatre Palisades production.

At intermission, your sleuthing skills will be tested by guessing the character responsible for the murders. (The winner is entitled to two free tickets for a subsequent show at Pierson Playhouse.)

I love mysteries. To say I wasn’t even close to the correct culprit would be an understatement—but then the majority of the audience was also incorrect.

Which tells you this is a proper English mystery with red herrings thrown in right and left – and it will keep you guessing until the final few minutes. The acting is highly entertaining, the direction by Marc Antonio Pritchett spot on, and with ticket prices at $22 for adults and $20 for seniors, the value is excellent.

Agatha Christie’s stage play had its world premiere at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham, on October 6, 1952, and since then has continuously had productions performed world-wide.

In Christie’s autobiography, she had a conversation with Peter Saunders, who predicted that her play would have a 14-month run. “It won’t run that long. Eight months perhaps. Yes, I think eight months,” Christie replied.

Instead, this has become one of the author’s most beloved and enduring plays and after a bit of a slow start that sets up the mystery, it is easy to see why audiences love it.

The actors for this show were well cast and a delight to watch.

Living in England after World War II, a young couple, Mollie and Giles Raston, Grace O’Neill and Carl Meyer-Curtis have just opened a “bed and breakfast,” with their first guests set to arrive. They have no servants and are naïve, expecting all of their guests to be charming and “normal.”

Instead, the first guest to arrive is Christopher Wren (Benjamin Orf), whose weird behavior makes him seem suspect of something from the beginning. The abrasive and antagonistic Mrs. Boyle well-played by Peggy Flood, is next to be introduced.

Michael Bernstein as Major Metcalf lends an air of steady confidence, which sharply contrasts with Mark Fields Davidson, who plays the idiosyncratic Mr. Paravicini–the man with a strong Italian accent and great comedic takes, but also a possible suspect.

And then what does Antoina Czinger as Miss Casewell know about murder? Her smile hides a wealth of personal information that she doesn’t share.

The Rastons and guests are in for a surprise when a snowstorm, a cut telephone line and a murder in London, which may be connected to one of their guests, come with the little inn’s opening.

Oh, and there is that nasty little murder that ends the first act. Luckily a policeman on skis, Michael Coleman (Detective Sergeant Trotter), arrives. In a calm, assertive manner, he warns that another murder is likely unless the culprit is found.

Sherman Wayne, who consistently designs impressive sets, has outdone himself on this one — the audience can almost feel the cold drafty air circulating in the great hall at Monkswell Manor. From the grandfather clock to the old radio, every detail fits perfectly.

Produced by Nona Hale and Sherry Coon, “The Mousetrap” definitely should be on your list to see. The show runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.. at the Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Rd. Tickets: (310) 454-1970 or visit: theatrepalisades.org.

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