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.
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.
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