When we arrived at Village Theater for Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap," we had to wander up and investigate the beautiful set designed by Jason Phillips. "I want to live there," said my partner as she wistfully drew a finger along the (fake but beautifully done) wood floors.
Filled with wood tones and warmth and hazy nostalgic blue tones, the large living room has comfy chairs and a warm fireplace set against large stained glass French windows looking out over a winter wonderland beyond.
I mentioned to the guy sitting next to me that I wouldn't mind curling up in the seat by the fire and reading a good book while they go on with the production around me. He replied, "Well, as long as you avoid being murdered!"
Because, of course, this is an Agatha Christie tale, so it's a classic parlor murder mystery: five guests at a guesthouse, the host and hostess, all supposedly strangers to each other, and a police officer, snowed in with one another. One guest is murdered. Who's the culprit?
I never like to play guessing games with murder mysteries, preferring to relax and enjoy the tale and be surprised at the end, but clues are provided along the way to help those who want to try out their detecting skills. On the radio at the beginning of the show we hear about a murder committed nearby where a local farmer's wife was strangled. Police are seeking an average height man with undistinguished features wearing a dark coat, a light scarf, and a felt hat.
Immediately prior to the radio news, Mollie Ralston (Hana Lass), the young proprietress, arrives home and hides something mysteriously behind a picture on the mantle. Soon her husband Giles Ralston (Richard Nguyen Sloniker) arrives as well and he hides something mysteriously in a closet, drops his coat, hat and scarf on the sofa, greets his wife and exits.
She switches on the radio and, as the news of the features of the person of interest is read out, she absentmindedly picks up her husband's "dark coat, a light scarf and a felt hat" off the sofa and puts them away.
The play is full of that sort of droll physical humor and those bits provide the lift and the spirit of the show.
The guests begin to arrive at the guesthouse amid much talk of the heavy snows moving in. Christopher Wren (Quinn Armstrong), wearing a ridiculously colorful tie and obsessed with antiques, has a disturbing tendency to pop up suddenly and waggle his fingers at people.
Mrs. Boyle (Ellen McLain) expresses her discontent with everything and everyone, reproving Giles Ralston for not meeting her at the train, and, when he remonstrates that he didn't know which train she was on, insists, "You ought to have met every train!"
Major Metcalf (R. Hamilton Wright) instantly brings to mind Colonel Mustard with the candlestick in the drawing room from the board game "Clue."
And Miss Casewell (Jennifer Lee Taylor) is a swaggering woman in trousers, who is at first mistaken for a man when she arrives wrapped in her overcoat, scarf and felt hat.
Mr. Paravicini (David Pichette) shows up when his car gets stuck in the snow and he prances around the stage, delighting in tweaking everyone at large.
Once everyone is assembled, Mollie Ralston receives a call from the police telling her to expect an officer. Someone announces, "Nobody will get here today!" just as the curtains are pulled away from the large French windows to reveal a figure peering into the room. He turns out to be Detective Trotter (Jared Michael Brown) who has arrived on skis. Now the cast is complete.
Directed here by Jeff Steitzer "The Mousetrap" is the longest running play in modern history, currently celebrating its 60-year anniversary. On a funny note, according to Marketing and Publications Associate, Carly Vester, "The Mousetrap" has never been made into a movie because the film rights were sold with the condition that a movie could not be made until the play stopped running, which it never has.
"The Mousetrap" runs through Mar. 24 at Village Theatre, 303 Front St N in Issaquah (through 2/24) and 2710 Wetmore Ave in Everett (3/1-3/24). For info or tickets, call 425-392-2202 or visit villagetheatre.org.