Wednesday, November 7, 2012

‘The Mousetrap’

A deadly game from the mind of Agatha Christie

Express Staff Writer

The cast starting from the left is Anja Sundali, Cameron Cooper, Joy Bond, seated, then Dawson Howard, Doug Neff, J.D. Ryan and Cyndi DuFur and Mackenzie Harbaugh, seated.
Express photo by Willy Cook

    Director Jamey Reynolds takes exception to people who can’t keep secrets. Those types are not invited to see “The Mousetrap,” he jokes, because to witness it, and be exhausted and exhilarated by all its red herrings and then to reveal it to a newcomer is worse than interrupting a joke teller by blurting out the punch line mid story.
    The veteran Laughing Stock company actor and current director said “The Mousetrap” isn’t just any old murder mystery, but the ultimate brainteaser, bound to stimulate “your little gray cells.”
    The Agatha Christie play has run longer than any other play in the world, opening in 1952 in London’s West End and currently still running there. A favorite of community theater groups, the play remains surprisingly fresh, due to the fact that audiences have traditionally been asked to keep the solution to the mystery a secret.
     “Agatha Christie’s masterful handling of suspense and character with this tale has been loved by audiences and so cherished by actors for all these years. This cast here is no exception,” Reynolds said. “Rehearsals have been a thrilling exploration as we painstakingly sculpt out Christie’s genius for twists and turns and slight of hand. The audience is all but guaranteed a great night. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some folks actually come back to see this again, if only just to catch the clues they missed the first time. But everyone must swear to never reveal the ending!”
    Reynolds said the queen of crime novels had gotten her act together writing-wise for the stage with this story.
    “This is her ‘Hamlet’,” he said.    
    The devices she developed in this play have been immortalized in thrillers from its creation to modern days, such as in “Law & Order” on television.
    This is the third Christie production that Reynolds has been a part of, but he said it’s the first time that the characters have been so real.
    “I’m really touched by the reality of it, the humanism,” he said. “Then there’s murder and how we deal with that in our lives once it has come into it.”
    More actors have done this play than any other play, he said.
    “That’s amazing when you think about it in 32 languages, from Texan to Thai accents.”
    The basic story is of a young married couple. The wife has inherited an old monastery from her aunt and they convert it to a guesthouse.
    The last time the play was done locally was 30 years ago as Laughing Stock Theatre Company led by Kathy Wygle was just getting started.
    For Reynolds, who concedes to be in need of a little extra caffeine in his professional diet, this is a chance to challenge himself, and set designing has allowed him to live out his other passion—architecture.
    “I’m lucky to have established myself well enough in this valley to have people wanting to work with me,” he said. “It’s hard to find the right people to be in a team—I direct in a way so that actors find themselves as a team as opposed to my little clones. I’ve written enough to realize the importance of the script and adhere to it.
    “I get those guys who do extreme sports. At my age I need the kick in the ass to get the plugs going. I need it to be daunting. This is my shot—it’s my magic moment.”
    He said he’s very proud of the commitment of the cast, whom he makes a point to thank, extending the gratitude to their relatives for “loaning me their moms and dads and kids” because they’re working so hard.
    “There’s something special happening here, even Kathy said it. We’ve got chemistry. This is the right script at the right time with the right people.”

Get caught up
What: Laughing Stock community theater production of vintage whodunnit from mistress of suspense Agatha Christie.
Who’s who: Cyndi DuFur as Mollie Ralston; Cameron Cooper as Giles Ralston; Joy Bond as Mrs. Boyle; Mackenzie Harbaugh as Christopher Wren; J.D. Ryan as Mr. Paravicini; Anja Sundali as Miss Casewell; Dawson Howard as detective Sgt. Trotter; Doug Neff as Major Metcalf. Gloria Gunter is the stage manager, Jamey Reynolds is director and set designer.
When: Starts Nov. 8 and runs Thursdays through Sundays until Nov. 18.  The show plays at 7 p.m. except Sunday matinee shows at 3 p.m.
Tickets: $20 for general admission and $30 for prime reserved seating. Call 726-9124 to book seats.

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