Friday, January 24, 2014

Mousetrap at the Resident Ensemble Players

Monkwell Inn
Forty-nine years after I first saw this play at the Ambassadors in January 1965, it seemed just as fun. The beautiful set with the magically realistic snowfall outside the large French windows made me think of the AmbassadorsTheatre and seeing Agatha Christie four rows ahead of us and stage-whispering, ‘Mama, that’s Agatha Christie’ so loudly that the graceful lady waved her fashionably gloved hand in recognition.

Steve Tague kept everything as it had been in 1965: the luxuriously rambling manor, the period clothes and the cheerily British murderers – Christie style indeed. Elizabeth Heflin as Mollie Ralston and Mic Matarrese as Giles Ralston set the scene and helped the audience put their clocks back to the 1950s. The cold and snow were not a difficult sell after the past week’s storms. C. David Russell’s set was just right and the sound of the radio was audible, radio-like and spot-on with the absolutely essential cues and set-ups (compliments to Eileen Smitheimer and crew for the sound design and execution).

Mrs. Boyle
Jeffrey C. Hawkins animated the stage as Christopher Wren – putting a manic tension into the mix and letting us enjoy Agatha Christie’s wit and social sarcasm, but it took the entrance of the spinsterish and unpleasable Mrs. Boyle (Kathleen Pirkl Tague) and Major Metcalf (Stephen Pelinski) to get us all the way back to Christie-land. From then on, the audience was completely convinced and in the time and mood.

The names of the cast were, of course, quite familiar to those who attend plays at the REP, but I did not even recognize a whit of any previous roles by Deena Burke as she embodied the prickly Miss Casewell. Her manliness and moodiness brought back a time when we just judged people for what they presented and not what we imagined. By the time the ebullient Mr. Paravicini burst in, I was transported to the days when sitting by the snowy window with tea and a book by Agatha Christie was a winter dream come true. The play runs until February 9 with a post-show cast talk on Thursday, January 30. Sold out on February 1.

See Photos courtesy of UD REP's Facebook page.

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