By Agatha Christie
Richardson Theatre Centre
Director – Rachel Lindley
Stage Manager – Will Frederick
Set Design – Andrew Dillon
Scenic Design and Set Decoration – Bobbi Keese
Light/Sound Design – Richard Stephens, Sr.
Props – Rachel Lindley, Cast, Crew
Costumes – Rachel Lindley, Cast, Crew
Mollie Ralston – Julia Kendry
Giles Ralston – Thomas McKee
Christopher Wren – Collin Miller
Mr. Boyle – Frank Wyatt
Major Metcalf – Lloyd Webb
Miss Casewell – Bobbi Keese
Mr. Paravicini – Rusty Harding
Detective Sergeant Trotter – David Kelton
Reviewed Performance: 5/15/2016
Reviewed by Joel Gerard, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The Mousetrap is the world’s longest running play. It has had more than 25,000 performances and ran continuously for over 60 years. Such a feat is no doubt in part to the playwright and master of mystery, Agatha Christie. It’s a well written mystery with a famous twist to the ending that audiences are asked not to reveal. This show was an excellent choice for Richardson Theatre Centre as they did a fine job with the show, and it works well in their performance space.
Newlyweds Giles and Mollie Ralston open a bed and breakfast in the countryside outside of London and welcome their very first guests. All the colorful guests have reservations, except for one, and immediately these characters clash over their many different personalities. Coincidentally, they are all snowed in for the weekend at Monkswell Manor, and shortly after the guests get situated a police officer arrives on skis to deliver bad news. Clues from a recent murder case in London have led the police to believe the Ralstons and their guests are to be the murder’s next targets.
Mollie and Giles Ralston, played by Julia Kendry and Thomas McKee, are the newlywed owners of the new bed and breakfast. Ms. Kendry does an excellent job portraying Mollie’s optimism, naivety, and good nature. She probably has the most scenes and does the best job of speaking in an English accent. Mr. McKee started off a little stiff in his first scenes but eventually relaxed into the character. He did a nice job with the characters growing distrust and frustration in his interaction with the other guests. His English accent was practically non-existent, but accents are tough to get right for any show. Admittedly, all the cast members’ accents were all over the place.
Christopher Wren, an energetic young man, is the first guest to show up. He’s interested in architecture and the details of the old Monkswell Manor. He seems to be on the run from something, but is reluctant to divulge from what exactly. His personality and mannerisms can best be described as Schizophrenic. Colin Miller tackles a tricky character with mixed results. He injects a much-needed burst of energy to his scenes and keeps the stuffy setting from feeling too stagnate. However, Mr. Miller’s constant fidgeting and interaction with props was stealing focus in the scenes. He would sit on the floor, wiggle in a chair, play with a blanket, bang a drum, and it was distracting from whatever else was going on.
Next to arrive are Mr. Boyle and Major Metcalf. Mr. Boyle, a gender change from the original cast which was a Mrs. Boyle, is a retired judge who goes around vacationing to different hotels and lodges criticizing everything he sees. Mr. Boyle is a crusty and privileged older gentleman who is never happy with his surroundings. Frank Wyatt plays Mr. Boyle perfectly from the minute he walks in. His booming voice and presence portrayed the character’s discontent with ease. Little is known about Major Metcalf other than he is retired from the Army. Lloyd Webb imbues the Major with a formality and distinguished nature befitting a military man.
Miss Casewell is a young woman who shows up for the weekend. She is what would be considered a modern woman for the early 1950’s setting. Wearing pants and a vest as opposed to a dress, she’s considered “manly” by the other guests. She looks remarkably like Amelia Earhart. She’s an independent woman who had a rough childhood. Bobbi Keese is relaxed and confident as Miss Casewell and brings a playfulness to the characters past and secrets.
The only guest to show up unexpectedly is Mr. Paravicini, whose car crashed near Monkswell Manor and stays the weekend due to the snowstorm. He’s a mysterious foreign gentleman who is artificially aged with makeup for an unknown reason. Rusty Harding looks like he’s having a blast as Mr. Paravicini. He fans the flames of the others distrust and unease.
David Kelton plays Detective Sergeant Trotter who shows up to investigate the possibility that there is a murderer at Monkswell Manor. The detective questions the guests, and attempts to learn more about each of them and their motivations for being there. Mr. Kelton does a great job as Trotter and easily brings the audience with him as he interacts and questions everyone in the room.
I loved the cozy set design by Andrew Dillon. He made great use of the performance space for entrances and exits. The set definitely looked like a cottage in a rural countryside outside of London. Bobbi Keese’s contribution to the set decoration and design really completed the period look of the set. The props by Rachel Lindley and the cast looked appropriately like items that would be found at a bed and breakfast and were used effectively by the cast.
Special mention goes to the sound design by Richard Stephens, Sr. There were a lot of sound cues with news reports and music from the radio, telephone ringing, and voiceovers. It all worked perfectly and added another dimension to the setting. The current lighting system at the Richardson Theatre Centre does little more than turn on and off. They are reportedly working on raising money for a new lighting system. I will be happy to see what they can really do with proper equipment.
Rachel Lindley deserves all the accolades for this production. It was well cast, and she moved the actors around the space efficiently and with purpose. She made a dialogue-heavy show feel swift and intimate. Ms. Lindley made all the pieces work together to create an entertaining show. It’s not a mystery that The Mousetrap is great fun.
Richardson Theatre Centre
518 W. Arapaho Road, Suite 113, Dallas, TX 75080
Runs through May 29th, 2016
Tickets: For dates, times, and ticket info go to www.richardsontheatrecentre.net or call the box office at (972) 699-1130.