The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings










See links at top of our Main PageQUOTES






Free Updates
A CurtainUp New Jersey Review
The Mousetrap

This maniac is trying to get here and kill us all — or one of us, we're quite safe now. Because of the snow. No-one can get here till it melts. — Mollie

Thom Sesma. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)
Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap has been playing non-stop on the London stage since 1952. The how and why of this phenomenon is anyone's guess. It is not a particularly clever or good stage mystery, certainly not nearly as good or intriguing as are the film versions of many of her mysteries. In hard cover, they have lined book shelves for decades.

Going to see The Mousetrap in London is as obligatory for the tourist as is seeing the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Going to see it at the McCarter, if you've never seen it, can at least put you back in the conversation.

The play shows up regularly on the regional trail, at community theaters, and in schools across the country all the while earning the trust of the audience to not divulge whodunit.

As a fellow critic said to me after the show, "The Mousetrap is somehow always the same, never better, never worse and whether it is in a professional or amateur production. Now that's a mystery. So it is with the audiences who attend the production now in the large Matthews Theatre at the McCarter Theater Center.

The play begins as a blizzard rages outside the windows of the Grand Hall in an old manor house near London. It seems that Monkhouse Manor has recently been purchased and turned into a bed and breakfast by nervous newlyweds Mollie and Giles Ralston (Jessica Bedford and Adam Green.) The rooms have all been booked and the hosts are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the first guests on their opening weekend. As we are right to suspect, they are in for some surprises from their guests, all of whom will be coming courtesy of central casting.

The stately Great Hall where the guests gather and also for the sake of the ever thickening plot has been handsomely designed by Alexander Dodge with an unusually high ceiling from which rows of weirdly architectural stalactites protrude suggesting rows of chessmen or the like. What it means is anybody's guess.

Although an announcement over the radio lets the hosts know that a ghastly murder has been committed nearby, they graciously welcome the arrivals each of whom makes a point of shaking off snowflakes on the floor. Unlike the silent movies of yore, we are grateful that a ferocious blast of snow doesn't follow each one of them, as each appears in turn either nuttier or more eccentric.

Mollie and Giles do their best to be cordial and accommodating to: a young fruity-to-a-fault architect (Andy Phelan) whose off-the-wall behavior is certifiable; the haughty and condescending Mrs. Boyle (Sandra Shipley) who remains until her (oops) in a constant state of disdain and/or umbrage; the highly energized/masculine-ized Miss Casewell (Emily Young), and Mr. Paravicini (Thom Sesma) the uninvited, scarily mysterious stranger with a foreign accent whose car got stuck in the snow. There is the one guest Major Metcalf (Graeme Malcolm) who appears to be free of any neurotic tendencies but that could be a sign of danger.

Of course there is the obligatory Detective Sergeant Trotter (Richard Gallagher) who braves the storm in order to announce that one or more of them is in mortal danger. Did I mention that the telephone lines are down and the roads are blocked?

Give Christie credit for piling on the red herrings so that every character gets a turn to earn our suspicions. Director Adam Immerwahr smartly allows his excellent cast to be amusingly quirky without being totally implausible. I was particularly impressed by the ingratiating performances of Bedford and Green, who are certainly also not above suspicion.

Whether or not you are fooled and/or surprised by the outcome, you will, I assure you, not be tempted to give away or share anything you have seen or heard. If the biggest mystery remains the mystery behind the success of The Mousetrap, it shouldn't stop you from trying to figure it out. . . like the rest of us.

The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie
Directed by Adam Immerwahr
Cast: Jessica Bedford (Mollie Ralston), Adam Green (Giles Ralston), Andy Phelan (Christopher Wren), Sandra Shipley (Mrs. Boyle), Graeme Malcolm (Major Metcalf), Emily Young (Miss Casewell), Thom Sesma (Mr. Paravicini), Richard Gallagher (Detective Sergeant Trotter)
Set Design: Alexander Dodge
Costume Design: Jess Goldstein
Lighting Design: Philip S. Rosenberg
Sound Design: Nick Kourtides
Production Stage Manager: Cheryl Mintz
Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes including intermission
Matthews Theatre at the McCarter Theatre Center, 91 University Place, Princeton, N.J.
(609) - 258 - 2787
Tickets: from $25
From 03/08/16 Opened 03/11/16 Ends 03/27/16
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 03/11/16
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of The Mousetrap
  • The review made me eager to see The Mousetrap
  • I disagree with the review of The Mousetrap
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter
Subscribe to our FREE email updates: E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message. If you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
The New Similes Dictionary

©Copyright 2016, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from