By SPENCER ABROHMS
For The News-Letter
The Barnstormers premiered their production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, an intense, intriguing and funny whodunit murder mystery, in Swirnow Theater on Friday, Oct. 23.
The Mousetrap, first performed in 1952, details a fateful night when Mr. and Mrs. Ralston, compellingly played by juniors Neil Fendley and Maura Kanter, respectively, decide to convert Monkswell Manor into a guest house. They run into bad luck when a terrible blizzard keeps them and their guests trapped in the house.
Suddenly, Detective Sergeant Trotter, played by junior Zachary King, barges in to reveal that someone in the house has a connection to the murder of a woman named Maureen Lyon and a guest may be at risk of being killed — or the murderer may be in the house.
Possible suspects include the eccentric architect Christopher Wren, played by sophomore Aavik Pakrasi; the misanthropic old lady Mrs. Boyle, played by senior Michelle Paragment; the retired military man Major Metcalf, played by sophomore Donhem Brown; the strong woman Miss Casewell, played by junior Alana DiSabatino; and the strange man who came without an appointment, Mr. Paravincini, played by graduate student Ramanujan Srinath.
With the actors’s intense commitment to their roles, and with the red herring and other plot complexities, The Mousetrap kept this reviewer guessing until the shocking conclusion.
It was evident that the cast and crew had put in a lot of work into the production. Director Andy Scott had nothing but praise for the work ethic of his cast.
“One interesting thing is that everyone is just coming from class, and I was originally preparing to deal with people who were tired and exhausted,” Scott said.
“Even if they were tired, they were able to comment and turn on rehearsal mode in their mind. Everyone was really intuitive and could think on their feet, and no one ever came unmotivated, which was really refreshing because sometimes you even have professional actors come to your rehearsal unmotivated.”
Before the cast and crew began blocking and performing the play, they first analyzed the script to understand each of the character’s unique perspectives, and this really showed in the body language and speaking tones of characters.
“Dissecting the play by having the script right in front of us, and just reading it helps create your character’s perspective. You know exactly how they are responding to what the other character is saying, so that way, when you’re blocking and you’re up on your feet. In [the theatre] you feel like you have a full bag of tricks,” Scott said.
The analysis helped Scott and the cast come to the realization of what makes “The Mousetrap” so exciting and nerve-wracking. The characters all accuse each other of wrongdoing and let paranoia run rampant because they realize that each of their personas might just be a façade.
“As much as you think you know someone, you can’t be inside their mind, and you don’t really know what they are thinking all the time,” Scott said. “There are parts of this play where the characters suspect each other of being the murderer and that’s a really fascinating, terrifying, yet funny way of looking at what people are capable of, whether it’s a person you met yesterday or have been sleeping in bed with for a year.”
“The Mousetrap” plays like a game with an audience where each audience member tries to piece together the clues and discover who the murder is themselves. Every audience member must swear under oath before leaving the production to keep the murderer’s identity a secret.
You’ll have to find out who the killer is for yourself when the show returns to Swirnow Theater in the Mattin Center from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1.