“The Mousetrap” is the longest running play (it opened in 1952 in London’s West End) in the modern history of theater. It combines many excellent elements that entertain an audience. A suspenseful murder mystery. Lots of potential culprits. Warm and expansive production values. Even a blizzard that traps all the characters.
Using a real murder scenario from the past as a basis, “The Mousetrap” is the story of a young couple who have turned their aging manor home into a guest house in order to pay some of the bills of keeping the aging place up. Their first group of guests include people with lots of secrets. There’s a retired military officer, a comely young woman, a dowager who enjoys complaining, an eccentric young man, an effeminate gentleman of the world who just shows up and a police detective.
They are a divergent group, all with seemingly no connection with the first murder. But by the end of Act I, one of them falls victim to the murderer. It becomes the police detective’s job to find the killer among them and prevent any more deaths.
The Rep’s production of “The Mousetrap” has dynamite production and technical values. The cast is well-chosen, but in the first act, when the play introduces each character, the exposition is not quite as sharp and edgy in a way that befits a classic murder mystery of this type.
In Act II, when the police detective is starting to narrow down the possibilities and uncover who the guilty party is, this production starts to really get interesting. If the show could have been that engaging in Act I, it really would have been a more total success.
I can’t tell you who the murderer is. I can tell you it’s a lot of fun to guess.