Hartford Stage is currently presenting an altogether splendid and atmospheric production of Agatha Christie’s long-running murder mystery, “The Mousetrap.” “The Mousetrap” has actually been running for seventy years in London and is still going strong. The play is a delicious and wonderfully chilling work and, in the first class hands of Hartford Stage, the show is enormously satisfying. What really makes this production work is the tightly paced direction by Jackson Gay and a terrific cast, whom are all nicely game and in the full spirit of this play. Running a quick two hours and thirty minutes, with an intermission, “The Mousetrap” is quite a puzzle and it will keep you guessing until close to the very end of the show. I would loathe to reveal anything more about the play, other than to say that it is most highly recommended and Hartford Stage’s presentation of “The Mousetrap” demands to be seen.
On a gorgeous and elegantly handsome set, excellently designed by Riw Rakkulchon, one is immediately put into the spirit of the play, which is a tantalizing detective story/whodunit. “The Mousetrap” takes place at Monkswell Manor guesthouse, which is run by the married couple, Mollie and Giles Ralston (portrayed ideally by, respectively, Sam Morales and Tobias Segal). As the first act progresses, the guests gradually arrive, with each new character providing a bit more intrigue. It should be stated, as well, that there is a massive snowstorm outside, which isolates everyone from leaving the guesthouse. There are a total of eight characters in “The Mousetrap,” who, as it happens, are all keeping at least one or two secrets up their sleeves. Indeed, in this whodunit, just about any one of the people in the play could conceivably be the murderer.
The performers who enact these characters are all divinely entertaining. In addition to the married couple running Monkswell Manor, there is the delightful Christopher Geary as the young man, Christopher Wren, who is soon followed by the upper class matron, Mrs. Boyle, crisply enacted by Yvette Ganier. Also on hand are the strong Greg Stuhr as Major Metcalf and the fine Ali Skamangas as Miss Casewell. The highly amusing Mr. Paravicini, played extravagantly by the funny Jason O’Connell, is perhaps the most mysterious guest at the manor, considering that he is the one character who has arrived at the guesthouse without a reservation. To top everything off is the expert Brendan Dalton as Detective Sergeant Trotter, who appears on the scene to warn the guests that they are not safe and that a murderer is on the loose.
It would be unthinkable to provide any more of the plot of “The Mousetrap” other than to say that the tension continually builds and that there are more than a few things that go bump in the night. In addition to there being a magnificent set, the fantastic costume design is provided by Fabian Fidel Aguilar and Krista Smith’s lighting design is stunning. Adding much to this show is the appropriately sinister original music by Broken Chord, who also is responsible for the crystal clear sound design. Director Jackson Gay has indeed worked wonders with both the actors and the design team.
“The Mousetrap” may be among the most wonderfully beguiling and consistently surprising detective stories ever, as Agatha Christie slyly and macabrely builds the play to its most unforeseen conclusion. Everything works expertly in Hartford Stage’s dark and frightening production of “The Mousetrap,” which should be a boon to any mystery lover. It is most interesting at the curtain calls that one of the actors steps forward to tell the audience to keep the “seventy year old secret” of this play to themselves. Considering how long “The Mousetrap” has been playing in London, it should ideally be seen at least once and I doubt that you could do better than the staging of this play at Hartford Stage. It is definitely worth catching while you can.
“The Mousetrap” continues performances at Hartford Stage in Hartford, CT through November 6, 2022. For tickets and more information, please visit http://www.hartfordstage.org.
Photo: Ali Skamangas (on the couch) and Sam Morales (on the phone)
Photo by T. Charles Erickson