Taking a break from the exciting world of media arts, I auditioned last month on a whim for Domino Theatre’s production of THE MOUSETRAP (October 18-November 3rd) written by Agatha Christie.
The world of community theatre isn’t a completely foreign concept to me and I do have a certain fondness for acting in stage thrillers ever since my childhood pal Nancy and I wrote and starred in MURDER AT THE VANDERBILTS in grade 5. It ran for 3 whole hours in her family’s basement to rave reviews. Ten year olds running around drinking apple juice disguised as gin whispering of extortion and adultery wasn’t just a kink in our childhood development–youthful enjoyment of the genre is more popular than you think! Why, just last year our niece couldn’t decide how she wanted to celebrate her 8th birthday party, it was either going to be a luau or a murder mystery. After she insisted that it not be “just a mystery” party but an actual “murder” mystery, I wrote her a Murder at the Luau game for her and her friends. These precious little girls were so thrilled to learn new words like “blackmail” and “exsanguination” along with an appreciation for the musical repertoire of Don Ho.
I first fell in love with Agatha Christie’s work when I first watched one of my favourite camp films of all time– The Mirror Crack’d with (get this) Liz Taylor, Angela Lansbury, Tony Curtis, Kim Novak AND Rock Hudson! Check it out if you get a chance, it’s not a great movie but it sure is entertaining and the reveal of whodunnit and why is exceptionally creepy.
I similarly enjoyed the film adaptations of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (featuring a Logan’s Run era Michael York looking extremely who-do-able) and the less-than-classic 1965 interpretation of TEN LITTLE INDIANS featuring Fabian and Shirley Eaton (a.k.a the gold painted Bond girl in GoldFinger).
Agatha Christie’s stories translate well to television and the big screen, and while the stage adaptations of her works have also been tremendously successful, (the London production of The Mousetrap is still the longest running theatrical production of all time) they seem a bit old fashioned and most certainly, er, STAGEY to a modern audience weaned on MuchMusic and Ritalin.
Nonetheless discouraged I was thrilled to get the part of dogged Inspector Sgt. Trotter, a skiing policeman sent to discover the identity of a mysterious killer and that killer’s intended victim(s) before time runs out!
After weeks of rehearsals, I’ve concluded that the ironic fun of going to see a play like THE MOUSETRAP lies in its old-fashionedness. What’s OLD is NEW again! It has only one set, the grand hall of Monkswell Manor guest house; a helicopter doesn’t do an emergency evac into the hall; nor does Spiderman swoop down to nab the baddy. The dialogue is sometimes loaded with exposition explaining things that happened not only the day before, but summarizing the socio/political landscape of Great Britain in the 50s. And despite the threat of a murderer in their midst, no one does much besides posing suspiciously with a cup of tea, fire poker, glass of wine. Yet, there’s an intimacy to The Mousetrap that has always managed to captivate an audience perhaps based largely on its simple aesthetic and meeting an audience’s expectations based on the mystery genre. Secluded location? Check. Stuffy British accents? Check. Psycho on the Loose? Check. Eccentric cast of characters? Double Check! THE MOUSETRAP combines these elements with rather brilliant dialogue that actually drips with spoilers as to the identity of the murderer (or murderess) and just who is on the killer’s hit list.For an LGBT audience, you’ll actually get a kick out of a few inside jokes including the queer film festival director himself getting to describe a character as “a bit queer in the head”. There’s also houseguest Christopher Wren (played by charming Brent Neely) an antique-loving architect who relishes drama and has a crush on the “hearty” detective.
And then there’s gender-ambiguous Miss. Casewell (played by the lovely Robin deKleine-Stimpson) who is described as mannish and skulks about in men’s clothing.
The rest of the cast includes two attractive-turned-ordinary-looking actors Genevieve Landis and Jason Bowen as guesthouse proprietors Mollie and Giles Ralston.
The terrific Andrew Scallion as the gruff Major Metcalf.
Warm and wonderful John Corrigan as the wildly eccentric Italian stranger Mr. Paravicini.
And veteran actor Mary Barclay stealing the show as the dour Mrs. Boyle.
The play is creatively directed by Roslyn Schwartz. The rest of the crew includes Penny Nash, Liz Schell, Marlene McKenzie, David L. Smith, Ted Leyton, Katie Flower-Smith, Bob Brooks, Alexandra Coopers, James Leslie and Andrea Leyton. What a great team of creative folks who all volunteer their time to contribute to the fabric of Kingston’s cultural scene. So if you have the chance, come out and see The Mousetrap and see if you can figure out whodunnit before policeman on skis Sgt. Trotter does!
You can buy your tickets online by clicking on the link here.