by Clark Groome
Two murders. Six suspects. What seems like hundreds of clues. Three Blind Mice. Those are the elements that make up Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” the whodunit that has been running in London’s West End since 1952 and now, 60 years later, has come to the Walnut Street Theatre, where it’ll be through March 4.
Christie was a brilliant mystery writer who was known for her clever twists and turns in all her books, plays and movies. “The Mousetrap” is no exception.
The story takes play in Mollie and Giles Ralston’s newly established guesthouse at Monkswell Manor in England in the winter of 1952. Five guests have come to stay during a blizzard, the Ralston’s first guests.
Needless to say, each of them is mysterious. The talk of the group is about a murder that took place the day before in London.
The only thing known about the murderer is he wore a dark coat, a light scarf and a felt hat. So do three of the men at the guesthouse. The murderer also whistled “Three Blind Mice.” There are indications that the murder is related to an incident that took place near Monskwell Manor several years before.
Soon after Detective Sergeant Trotter arrives on cross country skis, the group is informed that there are likely to be two more murders and that the killer is one of those in residence. There is one murder. This is followed by a lengthy investigation that ultimately leads to the killer’s identity.
The play is well crafted and, in the Walnut’s production, well played. The cast — Eric Bryant, Jennie Eisenhower, Laurent Giroux, Dan Hodge, Paul L. Nolan, Charlotte Northeast, Harry Smith and Judith Knight Young — is first rate, with special plaudits due Bryant, Eisenhower and Young.
Directed by Malcolm Black, the mystery unfolds at just the right pace, leaving questions to be pondered while new information is gathered. The whole business is mounted on Glen Sears’ magnificent set. The other good designers are Shelley Hicklin (lighting), Mary Folino (costumes) and Christopher Colucci (sound).
Going into the show I knew whodunit, having seen the show in London many years ago. Even with that knowledge, I still found the Walnut’s “The Mousetrap” to be engaging and entertaining.
For tickets to the Walnut Street Theatre’s production of Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” playing through March 4, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787 or visit www.walnutstreettheatre.org