On Monday, November 8, I was offered the privilege of viewing the RPI Players rendition of Agatha Christie’s play The Mousetrap before its opening night. It is a PBS Masterpiece Mystery special brought to life. Directed by local professional Norman Eick, the Players have executed well what I consider the trifecta of theater: environment, character reproduction, and stage choreography. Before I go on to review the show, I will disclaim that no important plot points shall be revealed, and neither will much detail of the plot in general. With that said, I will begin by offering some of the play’s exposition.
The story is set on a wintery night in the British countryside not so far from London. The first scene opens up on the sitting room of the Monkswell Manor owned by young couple Giles and Mollie Ralston. The two have converted the ancient manor into a guest house. A murder has occurred in London of a woman by the name of Maureen Lyon. Her death is inconsequential to the guests of Monkswell Manor. These guests include: Christopher Wren, a eccentric young man; Mrs. Boyle, an uppity class elitist; Major Metcalf, a former member of the military; and Miss Casewell, a rather masculine young woman. As the evening progresses, a surprise guest appears after his car overturns in the snow, Mr. Paravicini, a robust foreigner. The story further unfolds, drawing Detective Sergeant Trotter to Monkswell Manor.
The play follows in typical whodunnit fashion, casting each character into the light of suspicion. Moreover, a description of the murderer is detailed in a radio broadcast: an individual of medium build wearing a dark overcoat, white scarf, and felt hat. It is clear that nearly all of the suspected don such a wardrobe and fit the description, leaving the audience guessing until the very end.
The characters of this play vary widely from the sweet, unsuspecting to the standoffish to the purposefully problematic. The cast of The Mousetrap does a fine job portraying these detailed personas, especially Emily Kosmaczewski 16, who plays Mollie Ralston and Hayden Molinari 18, who plays Paravicini. Kosmaczewski is accomplished in her way of expressing and delivering emotion. Her mannerisms mimic those of a genuine English housewife of the 1940’s with a convincing accent. Molinari is similarly emphatic in his performance, executing a nearly flawless portrayal of the “mysterious stranger” all the while providing comedic relief.
The Players has a reputation for providing intricately detailed sets, and this show was no exception. From theflickering fireplace to the French windows, the set, coupled with quaint props and period-accurate costumes, transports you. Under the careful direction of Eick, the cast interacts purposefully with the set, delivering the subtle details that can be found in a Christie murder-mystery novel.
The show is a delight, and I highly encourage you to attend the opening show November 11 at 8 pm. Admission with a RPI ID is five dollars, and for our members of the Greek community and ROTC, your admission is $2.50 opening night.