Amanda Bennett as Miss Casewell.

Amanda Bennett as Miss Casewell.

Classic whodunnit in time for Halloween

The Mousetrap plays until Oct. 31 at Theatre in the Country

For Regs Parks, staging the longest running modern play in the world isn’t intimidating. He’s taken the challenge in stride, savouring the chance to stage a puzzling whodunnit.

“We thought it would be fun to do good, classic murder mystery for the Halloween season,” says Reg Parks, the artistic director of Theatre in the Country, which opened Agatha Christies’ The Mousetrap on the weekend.

A curious mixture of 1950s drawing-room comedy and murder mystery, The Mousetrap is the world’s longest running play, still playing in London’s West End, where it has for more than 60 years.

When a group of strangers are trapped together at Monkswell Manor during a snowstorm, they soon discover one of them is a murderer.

Is it the newlyweds? It could be the architect, the retired army major or maybe the odd man who claims his car overturned in a snowdrift?

Maybe it’s the spinster with the dubious background, Miss Casewell.

Parks travelled to London with a group of theatre fans last year and saw The Mousetrap on its storied West End stage.

“When you see it there, it kind of helps you capture the magic of it,” says Parks, adding that several actors in the cast joined him on that trip.

Parks isn’t intimated by the play’s pedigree. In fact, its decades-long run has allowed him a little artistic license.

The set this time is thrust into the middle of the audience.

“It’s very intimate. You feel like you are sitting to dinner at Monkswell Manor,” he explains. A video of a snow storms plays through the windows on the set adding a chilly, cold feel to the theatre.

Instead of grim retelling, Parks has opted for humour.

Christie meant The Mousetrap to be serious.

“A lot of the devices that she used back in the day were surprising but have become conventions of a murder mystery now days,” says Parks.

The humour is found in Christie’s unique character.

“They are an hodgepodge group of house guests,” says Parks.

He plays up their eccentricities. There’s Christopher Wren, a hyperactive young man, named after the architect who designed St. Paul’s. Mr. Paravicini, a man of unknown provenance, who may be Italian and Miss Casewell, a strange, aloof, masculine woman who speaks offhandedly about the horrific experiences of her childhood.

“There are enough red herrings in the show to try and make the audience think they know what’s going on and they don’t,” he adds.

 

Showtime

The Moustrap plays at Theatre in The Country, 272nd Street Maple Ridge, until Oct. 31. For tickets, call 9975-272 or visit theatreinthecountry.com.

Cast and crew are as follows:

Morgan Ariss – Det. Sgt. Trotter

Madeline Beckett – Set Decoration

Heather Beckett – Costume Designer

Amanda Bennett – Miss Casewell

Jimmy Berkenpas – Gilles Ralston

Graham Coates – Technical Dir.

Laura Cramer – Asst. Stage Manager

Karen Gardner – Mrs. Boyle

Hillary Frew – Production Manager

Julia Miller – Stage Manager

Joshua Osborne – Christopher Wren

David Secunda – Mr. Paravacini

Jessica Tabak – Mollie Ralston

John Tabak – Major Metcalf

Reg Parks – Director