Untimely trap

Mystery thriller a tribute to a bygone era

Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap has been performed on stage several times since the play first came out over 60 years ago.
Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap has been performed on stage several times since the play first came out over 60 years ago.
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Intrigue and mystery surround all of Agatha Christie’s works and The Mousetrap is no different.

The popular play, which has been continuously revamped since its premiere 60 years ago, is given a new home by Kingston’s Domino Theatre. This particular version of the play felt like a homage to the thrilling, but familiar murder mysteries of Masterpiece Theatre and the BBC.

The premise of the play is young couple Mollie and Giles Ralston inheriting the impressive Monkswell Manor, a large estate which now serves as a guesthouse.

During a bad blizzard, Monkswell’s rooms are filled with eccentric and secretive characters — one of whom is a murderer.

For the most part, the acting in this production served the characters and the plot points well. Genevieve Landis and Jason Bowen are entirely likeable and have convincing chemistry as the young Ralstons.

Robin de Kleine-Stimpson turns in a powerful performance as Miss Casewell, one of the suspects in the murder, while Matt Salton as Detective-Sergeant Trotter is staunch and warm, and altogether perfectly English.

While the acting helped guide the plot along, the production suffered from pacing issues, particularly in the first act — issues caused by an apparent lack of foreknowledge of the cues and timing. The first act is largely exposition and setup for the ending climax of killer’s reveal.

But unfortunately some of the first-act sluggishness continued into the second act with more line hesitancies from the actors.

At times, the slow delivery of important punch lines hindered the audience’s understanding of major plot points.

As a tribute to a bygone era in the way that Downton Abbey and Parade’s End are love letters to the 20s, The Mousetrap succeeds in all respects.

The nostalgic costumes, set dressing and lighting design evoked a romanticized vision of the early 50s, when everything was still in a decadent limbo from the war’s aftermath.

The play escapes to a former era, successfully engaging its audience in the aforementioned murder, but falling flat in the more technical details of timing that threaten the plotline in its entirety.

The Mousetrap runs until Nov. 3 at Domino Theatre.

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