BWW Reviews: The Arvada Center Presents a Solid Yet Tepid Suspense in Agatha Christie's THE MOUSETRAP
The longest running play on London's West End (62 years), THE MOUSETRAP by Agatha Christie comes to the Arvada Center and plays now through February 23rd. The mystery unfolds when a group of strangers is stranded at a remote country inn during a snowstorm. Murder is committed, and everyone is a suspect as the crime is investigated and secrets are revealed. Full of plot twists and surprises, audiences will be kept guessing who the culprit is until the final curtain. Don't miss this classic whodunit written by the greatest mystery writer of all time.
So no pressure Arvada Center but I like to pride myself on being a connoisseur of Christie and have read every mystery that this genius author has ever written! THE MOUSETRAP is one of Ms. Christie's most popular and well known works and the talented cast and crew honored this fine work with memorable characters and excellent suspense that has translated into a nearly sold out run of the show! While I did enjoy the show, I noticed a slight but lingering bobble in the beginning.
When you start a show on an off-beat, it is sometimes difficult to regain your pacing (especially in a carefully timed mystery such as this one), which causes the play to lag in drive and even with some of the great talents of Denver, this show fell visit in to this effect for a short while. However the issues of pacing, timing, and driving inertia were resolved by Act Two and the show ended and resolved with confidence and ease. Even with the wobbly start the suspense was still good and the audience seemed to enjoy it! Because of this, I am certain that this talented cast will be able to overcome this small hurdle and the show should be now running smoothly and energetically.
Devon James was simply lovely as Mollie Ralston and gave a wonderful performance. With her simple charm, she was crucial for guiding the plot along and I appreciated her air of mystery that made the audience wonder how she was involved in the murder. Josh Robinson was also good as her husband, Giles but he didn't give much depth to the character and that made his performance a little one-note for me. The real scene-stealer was Thadd Krueger as the quirky Christopher Wren. His role was over the top, odd and hilarious; and his unforgettable giggle had the audience in stitches. Denver Center veteran Kathleen Brady made an outstanding victim as the ever so grumpy Mrs. Boyle in her Arvada Center debut. I really enjoyed her stern, overly-critical, and humorous performance and could totally relate because as a server, we have all had these "never satisfied" customers before. Colin Alexander was also dynamic as Major Metcalf and brought a great sense of strength to his character. This was the butchest role I have ever seen Megan Van De Hey portrayal in the role of Miss Casewell and she handled it fabulously with an air of gusto, bravado, sarcasm and hilarity. She and John Arp brought most of the intrigue to their roles that had the audience transfixed every time they were onstage. Mr. Paravicini was the real mysterious character of the show and although his mystery was never quite solved, John Arp played him up with class and sadistic intensity. I also adored John's accent that worked so well with this character. Graham Ward was excellent as Detective Sergeant Trotter and you could tell that he really started to enjoy his character the more the show progressed. I only wish that he had taken his role a but further adding more melodrama to the Detective and more hysterical madness as the end.
Director Pat Payne picked an outstanding all-star cast, boasting some of the best talent in Denver. I also enjoyed his sensible blocking (it felt like there was something going on at all times in the house) and the show flowed slowly at first, but built up steam for a climactic ending. So I never get tired of saying this about scenic designer Brian Mallgrave but he has once again outdone himself with the quaint and lovely English country Manor filled with fantastic detail. His exceptional hard work was noticed and appreciated in his attention to the stonework, woodwork, and tile that gave this stage the welcoming ambience it needed. Add in the gorgeous props and furniture and the special effects of a working fireplace and falling snow and I wanted to check in and order room service! The lighting by designer was also superb and added to the ominous, suspenseful feeling. The costumes by Chris Campbell were another highlight of the production and his thoughtful choices in color and fabric accentuated every character. I especially adored his choices for Ms. Casewell, Mrs. Boyle, and Christopher Wren!
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