Perpetuating the illusion of snow. Done beautifully.
A set, utilised to the very most. Done beautifully.
Caricature characters. Done really, really beautifully.
A script that both held water paired with direction that brought the wit inherent to life.
Done just seamlessly.
An intimacy and warmth brought on by true mastery and comfort on the stage.
Well. It is the Mousetrap.
Summary (via nuffnang, one of the sponsors):
It is the winter of 1952 and seven people are stranded by a snowstorm at Monkswell Manor, a remote country guest house, cut off from the roads and from the phone. A policeman, Sergeant Trotter, manages to reach the house to warn them there has been a murder at a nearby farmhouse but, no sooner has he given his warning then, suddenly, an elderly guest is murdered. There are only six of them remaining and those six realise the truth – that one of them in the house is the murderer. Finally Sergeant Trotter believes he knows which of the six is the killer and he calls them together to set a trap which will reveal the identity of the murderer – but who is it and can he or she be found in time, before another murder is committed?
There was immense trouble in getting to Auditorium DBKL : the rain did not help with traffic although it lent to being in the snowed-in set beautifully. Waze and Maps sent us to Wisma Sime Darby. Thankfully we managed to get there in time due to some frenzied phone conversations that sounded like : “come back to Dataran!” and “It’s that great big white ugly building with the very ugly windows’. Then of course when we saw there was a Secret Recipe downstairs, we were a little sated. Parking was free. #ithadbetterbeafterallthattrouble
The kitschily top-hatted front-of-house staff were a little green: a few individuals were truly sweet and obliging, some hurried people along during intermission a little insensitively with a “we’re running out of time” despite the RM234 ticket price warranting a shade of grace and aplomb, for heaven’s sake.
Image : Agatha Christie’s Screenplay (adapted from the short story)
I take that as a disappointing inability to pay attention, to engage with the literary types that attended the play (laughed at subtle witticisms, phones were mostly on silent) – and a sign of a lack of interest. You’re a international bookstore. Talk about Dame Agatha. Talk about her literary works. Show us that you care about what you do. One wonders why you had to be so inert? Instead of being a bastion for literacy, Borders Malaysia, you made it very obvious you wanted a low-cost way to move stock. This could have been your coming out party.
The soundtrack was used to great effect. ‘Whodunits’ and such are often cheesy, riddled with bad sound effects, hollow and unfeeling. I really enjoyed the audio set-up – the lack of crispness served the production well. I don’t know too much about audio-tech, but they took a full house into consideration and the volume and settings were spot on (for me – perhaps a proper audio engineer might think differently).
The women were splendid, and played their feisty, strong, vulnerable parts with consistently good energy. Beautiful undertones with the vocal work (they didn’t desperately project).
And you know, John Faulkner is both one half of British Theatre Playhouse, bringing the play to Malaysia with Milestone Production (who charmingly, perhaps forgot that they may do more than one show, hehe); and Major Metcalfe. A deliciously subtle performance. I should think so. He played Giles on the West End version something like 3 decades ago.
Paravicini (played by Tony Boncza) was a firm, firm favourite of mine. Not least because he’s the most interesting, contrary, complex character who never turned his performance into a farce. Not for a moment.
Sergeant Trotter, played by Thomas Richardson: brilliant voice work, brilliant physicality. One exchanged knowing looks with female cousins upon realisation that he looks a little like Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) from Downton Abbey.
Well just a wee, wee bit. You’d have to see him with his hair combed and in the outfit.
I shan’t go into trysts about the cast – they were top notch, never felt the need to steal the spotlight, always let the script shine. And I felt comfortable with them. Probably because their performances were not fueled by ego. Something British performers do quite well.
The loveliest thing about the end is what Sergeant Trotter says after the curtain-call.
You’ll find out if you ever watch it.
Verdict : The best play I have seen anywhere with a small cast (under 10).
- Agatha Christie’s estate lets Poirot return (thetimes.co.uk)
- Agatha Christies Mousetrap! [Live in KL] (shashasekharan.wordpress.com)
- Theatre sets ‘The Mousetrap’ and other news from areas around Chattanooga (timesfreepress.com)