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The Perfect End of Summer Production: Pendragon Theatre’s The Mousetrap

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Pendragon Theatre’s The Mousetrap, Review

The Mousetrap at Pendragon Theatre

Pendragon Theatre, The Mousetrap, ReviewPendragon Theatre’s The Mousetrap started out with a scream last night—literally. Perhaps the most famous of Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries, the book and subsequent play have mystified readers and theatregoers for decades. Its origins come from Christie’s short story, “Three Blind Mice,” and a half hour radio mystery that was adapted from the story. The Mousetrap also boasts the longest initial run of any play in the world, having opened at London’s West End Theatre in October 1952.

On the night I went, the small theatre was packed. Christie’s classic style shined through the Pendragon’s tight and taut production, straight down to the set design, which consisted of the interior of Monkswell Manor, complete with paintings, a fireplace (with glowing lights to look like a fire within), and large swing doors that led out into the “snowy landscape.”

The entire play takes place at Monkswell Manor Guest House, located somewhere North of London, in the winter of 1952. The proprietors are new to the business and have several rather interesting guests booked for their first stay at the new Guest House. The guests soon become trapped at the house due to a blizzard. Affairs quickly turn suspicious, however, when it’s discovered that a murderer might be in their midst.

Immensely impressive was the versatility and skill of the Pendragon’s actors. We are swiftly introduced to the proprietors, Mollie and Giles Ralston (played by Donna Moschek and Tyler Nye). A cast of characters follow soon after, including Christopher Wren (Brandon Patterson), Mrs Boyle (Binnie Holum), Major Metcalf (Chris McGovern), Miss Casewell (Mackenzie Barmen), and an unexpected guest, Mr. Paravicini (Jordan Hornstein). The characters all have their own little quirks, whether it’s eccentricity (Wren, Paravicini), a stern countenance (Metcalf, Boyle, Mr.Ralston), or barely concealed sensitivity to past traumatic events (Mrs. Ralston, Miss Casewell). Later, Sergeant Trotter of the local police force skis to the snowed-in Manor, hoping to protect the guests from the killer, who is suspected to be making their way towards the Manor.

The cast was very effective in more than the obvious displays of delivering dialogue and movement across the stage, and their British accents were spot-on.

The audience seemed to especially enjoy the performances of Brandon Patterson as Christopher Wren, and Jordan Hornstein as Mr. Paravicini. Both played a different sort of eccentricity; while Patterson’s Wren was innocently childish and enthusiastic, Hornstein’s Paravicini was grandly unaware of his humorous outbursts of dialogue (which were plentiful). The entire cast, however, seemed to grasp the personality of their characters.

The pacing of the story was excellent up until around the middle of Act II. After the murder of the consistently complaining Mrs. Boyle (perhaps the most unlikable character of the bunch), the constant interrogations of Sergeant Trotter create a temporary and frustrating lull in the pacing. I suspect that this has nothing to do with the competency of the actors or the direction (both of which were excellent), but with the layout of the book/play itself. One of the signatures of Christie’s works was the slower, more suspenseful pacing of her stories, which lent to the story’s tension. Perhaps the pacing, while very effective on the printed page, can occasionally drag the pace of the story too slow for some audience’s tastes.

Despite the slight lull, I enjoyed this play very much. The tone was light and almost comedic at times, but very dramatic as the killer’s identity is gradually revealed. An excellent attribute of Christie’s work is also her way of making everyone in the story look guilty, while the most unassuming character is actually the villain.

It is a tradition for the audience of The Mousetrap, from local theatres to the West End, to not divulge the identity of the killer. I will honor that request (asked as I was to do so by Chris McGovern at the end of the performance); suffice it to say, you’ll have to see for yourself!

For more information, visit the Pendragon Theatre’s website at There are only a few dates left to see The Mousetrap, so buy your tickets quickly! This delightful murder mystery is the perfect end of summer production.

Christie Sausa is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our new City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.


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