“The Mousetrap” – Hale Centre Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ September 12, 2011


Hale Centre Theatre
Gilbert, AZ

Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” Hale Centre Theatre’s current attraction, is the definitive murder mystery, the play on which other thriller’s are based.  Since its 1952 London debut, the play has been a continuous West End resident playing over 24,000 performances and it’s had American success.  Although I am ashamed to admit it, I’ve never seen “The Mousetrap” before.

That is the best way to view this play.  Don’t know who the victim or murderer are and react to the myriad of clues and suspicious goings on at Monkswell Manor during a snowstorm that isolates this estate that’s just been converted into a hotel.

It would help if the Hale Centre production had more British sensibility.  The halting accents come and go with some cast sounding ridiculously put on.  And the play is tedious but that is more the playwright’s fault and the murder mystery genres’ style.  The story unfolds slowly and methodically and we are assaulted by facts and tidbits of information that cause audiences to try to guess the murderer’s identity.

I will tell you that in our party of three, I did guess the correct killer at the intermission, the only one in our group who did.  During the play’s curtain call, a cast member warns the audience not to give away the killer’s identity for fear of ruining the play for future audiences.  That warning makes perfect sense so I’ll try to set the scene without giving anything away.

The manor is run by husband/wife, Mollie and Giles.   They have four guests booked, the effete Christopher Wren, the know-it-all Mrs. Boyle, a retired military man Major Metcalf, and the overtly masculine Miss Casewell.  Another guest, Mr. Paravicini, shows up as a result of the snowstorm.  A police detective, Sergeant Trotter, investigates the crime.  So you have eight characters.  Since there’s a victim, the murderer is among the others.

Joel Cranson’s staging is slow and finds no way to make the clue-laden script move faster.  The ensemble rarely, if ever, seems English as everyone struggles with the British accents.  Some performers are better than others especially Ryan Toro’s over-the-top Christopher Wren and Trevor Starkey’s efficient detective but even these actors never deliver the requisite crisp and clipped British arrogance.

Hale Centre’s “The Mousetrap” is best for those who don’t know the killer.  If you’ve seen it, there’s nothing new here.  It continues through October 8.  For tickets, call the Hale Centre Theatre box office at 480-497-1181 or order tickets online at www.HaleTheatreArizona.com.

Grade: C