It was perfectly appropriate that I spent the night of the first snow of the year at the opening night of The Mousetrap (which features a snowstorm much more dire than ours turned out to be). I went through a big Agatha Christie novel phase in middle school, and I’ve always been a fan of the Poirot TV series, but I somehow managed to have avoided The Mousetrap up until now. So I went into the show completely blind and ready to get wrapped up in the mystery.
This is a classic drawing room mystery. It has it all: a group of strangers gathered together, a house that no one can leave, dark secrets from the past, lies, British accents. There’s not a lot of surprises here if you’re generally familiar with the genre, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a lot like picking up an old favorite book you haven’t read for a long time to curl up with under a blanket on a snowy evening, much like the one in the play. You know the basic plot, remember some of the zigs and a few of the zags, but it’s fun to take the ride.
As always, the set and costume designs were impeccable. I always fall a little bit in love with the styling during period pieces at the Rep, because I’m a soft touch for anything vintage, but it really is lovely. I definitely found myself wishing I could stay a few nights at the charmingly appointed Monkswell Manor (though perhaps not in the winter, if it’s as drafty as the guests claim…).
For an extra bit of fun, you can also fill out a “Whodunnit” form with your best guess for the murderer’s identity before intermission ends. I didn’t end up filling mine out, which was just as well…I turned out to be wrong!
This would definitely be a great alternative (or addition!) to the Christmas-themed shows that tend to take over this time of year, if you and your friends and family are the type who prefer murder over holiday cheer. Personally, I like a little bit of both!
The Mousetrap runs through December 20 in the Quadracci Powerhouse at the Milwaukee Rep