In the Moustrap, the owner of the house assures his guest that the snowstorm outside will cause no trouble. (published with permission from Lee’s Summit West High School)

Trapped in awe: A review of The Mousetrap

Everyone enjoys a good murder mystery play now and then, and a popular choice for your average high school theater department, among Clue and Arsenic and Old Lace, is The Mousetrap. Written by Agatha Christie, this play has had record-breaking success and is one of the longest-running shows in history, opening in London’s West End in 1952 and still running there today.

I was recently given an opportunity at a state theater conference to see a local high school (Lee’s Summit West) put on this production, and I was very excited. Although my seat placement made it a little hard to see the actor’s facial expressions clearly, I still enjoyed the experience very much.

The story begins in darkness, with the sounds of chaos and a radio voice reporting that a murder has occurred. As the radio announcer fades out, the lights come up, and a woman comes in through the front door. She walks around the room, tidying things up and talking to herself, for a couple of minutes. Although the very beginning of the production was intriguing, I started to grow bored right after. I felt like the several silent minutes of one actor on stage adjusting and readjusting various objects repeatedly grew old quite quickly.

However, the beginning was not an indicator of how the rest of the show would feel because soon thereafter, a new character (the woman’s husband) entered, and from then on, each conversation and each character was intriguing, had an interesting personality, and from the beginning, suspicious connections to the mystery were set up. Regarding the plot, I was very satisfied with the twists and red herrings that peppered the mystery. It was the kind of play that seemed predictable but, in fact, was not at all.

The work of the actors was quite phenomenal. Considering the whole cast and crew were between the ages of 14 and 17, the lines were delivered with excellent timing, tone, and pace. My one complaint is that clarity of speech was sometimes a bit lacking. I did not catch all of the lines said due to the varying volume and clarity of each actor. However, even on lines I couldn’t hear well, the tone and emotion behind each line were evident.

The cast’s strengths seem to lie in conveying the varied emotions behind the story, and when there was a shift in mood, it was clear and unconfusing. Some of the characters had an accent or a manner of speech, and these actors stayed consistent to it throughout the show. I never noticed an accent slip during the two-hour length of the production. Unfortunately, I was seated too far away to be able to see the facial expressions, but I was thoroughly impressed that even though I couldn’t clearly see the actors’ faces, I didn’t have to. The emotions of the piece were crystal clear.

Finally, the logistics of this production were quite good. There were no set changes throughout the production, but the stationary set fits all of the scenes and movements it needed to. Actors were able to move between the rooms and doors as needed. The audience was able to have a decent view of the entire set. The several blackouts and lighting changes had zero mistakes, however, during one scene, when a character was playing the radio, and the phone began to ring, as the character turned the radio down, the sound of the phone ringing also got quieter. It was a small and barely noticeable slip-up, one of the only of the production.

In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed this show and would highly recommend it. Lee’s Summit West presented an excellent show and a worthy experience for anyone.

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