It's a classic whodunit by Agatha Christie, the woman who helped popularize the genre. But "The Mousetrap" is more than that, it's the world's longest-running play and one that uses humor to establish the characters.
NOVA Center for the Performing Arts opens "The Mousetrap" on Friday, Nov. 10, the same day Christie's most familiar work, "Murder on the Orient Express," hits movie theaters with a star-studded cast, including Johnny Depp.
Christopher Greensweight directs "The Mousetrap" for NOVA, taking a fresh approach to the classic play, which opened in London in 1952. The play will be presented in NOVA's Black Box Nov. 10-19.
It's not considered Christie's best play, and she even expressed concerns about it lasting eight months on London's West End. She was fooled by her own work, though, since "The Mousetrap" is now in the 65th year of its run, making it the world's longest running play.
The final twist is so unpredictable that actors are asked to speak directly to the audience in the final scene, asking them not to reveal the ending. Christie's grandson, Prichard, who holds performance rights to "The Mousetrap" complained to Wikipedia for revealing the ending. Wikipedia still lists the murderer, but added a warning to discourage people to discover who the murderer was.
"The Mousetrap" opens during a snowstorm in an old country mansion with a young couple, the Ralstons, making final preparations before guests arrive. Kassidy R. Miller and Dylan Petit play the young married couple who inherited Monkswell Manor from an aunt.
As the guests start arriving, Mollie Ralston notes how odd they all are. Of course, the audience can't help but notice as well.
"All our guests are either unpleasant or odd," Mollie tells her husband, Giles.
The strangest one, but immediately the most likable because he is so off-the-wall is Christopher Wren, played with a crazy energy by Brandon Lahren. His comments on the world are slightly jarring, but so funny. He recites a snippet of a nursery rhyme, then observes, "Nursery rhymes are so macabre. That's why children like them."
Mrs. Boyle, played by Ginger Roll, is the crankiest boarder, by far. When Giles tells her she can stay elsewhere if she doesn't like Monkswell Manor, you feel like cheering.
Greensweight noted that the play is very British and it features Christie's signature tropes.
"I told the cast, so you're an archetype, get past that," Greensweight said.
After reading Christie's stories since he was 12, Greensweight said he was excited to bring it to the stage. Before J.K. Rowling came up with her Harry Potter series, Christie was the best-selling female writer in history.