Theater Barn springs Agatha Christie’s ‘Mousetrap’

By Jeffrey Borak, The Berkshire Eagle

NEW LEBANON, N.Y. — If it’s early July it must be Agatha Christie time at The Theater Barn and, sure enough, the Grand Dame of murder-mystery is holding sway at the intimate non-Equity professional theater with one of her most popular and enduring plays, “The Mousetrap” (yes, it is now in its 65th consecutive year in London’s West End). It’s no stranger to the Barn either. This is the fifth “Mousetrap” in the non-Equity professional theater’s 35-year history. The Theater Barn set its first “Mousetrap” in 1985 and subsequently produced it in 1990, 1998 and 2008.

The setting is vintage Christie — a virtually snowbound guest house outside London that is owned and run by a young married couple of only one year, Mollie and Giles Ralston (an earnest Sydney Berk and overly suspicious Adam Giannone), who are novices at running a hostelry. The first guests at their Monkswell Manor include Christopher Wren, a nervous, eager-to-help, vulnerable young man (played by Ali Bourzgui with charm, style and dimension, especially in his scenes with Berk’s Mollie); a dour, demanding, curmudgeonly spinster named Mrs. Boyle (a forced, uncertain Charlotte Harvey); Major Metcalf, a retired military officer (played with theatrical command and savvy by Sky Vogel); the aloof, mannish Miss Casewell (an effective Cara Moretto, fresh from her skillful performance in the season-opening “The Nerd”); and an unexpected, bizarrely foreign-accented guest named Paravicini (played with gusto by John Trainor, who appears to be having the time of his life onstage).

Dropping in just before the snow piles high enough to keep others out is a young London police detective named Trotter (Patrick Scholl), who has reason to believe that a killer may be headed for Monkswell Manor; if, that is, he or she isn’t already there, hiding in plain sight.

Before you can say “intermission,” someone winds up dead.

There is no shortage of suspects. The Manor’s farm-to-table menu is flavored with a generous supply of red herrings.

An easy evening out with a master of her craft.

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