REVIEW:  Greenville Little Theatre Ensnares Audiences in ‘Mousetrap’ Mystery

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“No one does murder mysteries like Agatha Christie or Greenville Little Theatre!”

BY SANDY STAGGS
DRAMA CRITIC

As Allen and Suzanne McCalla kick-off their 25th season at Greenville Little Theatre, they do so with an even more venerable institution, Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” the world’s longest-running play having been continuously produced night after night in London’s West End since 1952.

I had the pleasure, if fact, of experiencing “The Mousetrap” in London in 1996 featuring one of the cast members from “Are You Being Served?” Though after witnessing the GLT version Saturday night, I must admit I remembered very little of this spellbinding whodunit that kept me guessing til the very end.

In typical Christie-fashion, a group of strangers of different occupations and social classes are trapped together in an isolated location with a murderer in their midst.

This time the action is at Monkswell Manor, owned by husband-and-wife team Mollie and Giles Ralston, (embodied by the McCallas in the 2000 production), played by GLT’s favorite leading lady Emily Grove and Craig Smith, who’s received rave reviews for his work at Anderson theatres and now has joined the GLT resident acting company.

Grove is stupendous as always, lending warmth, sincerity and a perfect English accent to this role, as well the scariest stage SCREAM I have ever heard. And Smith conveys genteel civility and delectable humor to this British gentleman who may or may not be the killer.

The Ralstons have a full house of five guests that are waiting out a snowstorm at the manor: the mysterious and chipper Christopher Wren (Carter Allen is his most unique interpretation yet at GLT); the incorrigible Mrs. Boyle (a prim and proper Stephanie Underwood filling in effortlessly on this evening for Catherine Christophillis), who complains about every aspect of her accommodations; the aloof Major Metcalf (Robert Simms in his unprecedented reprisal from the 2000 production); the butch Miss Casewell,  played by Latreshia Lilly; and the odd-duck Mr. Paravicini, Evan Harris, the man of 1,000 disguises as an eclectic Hercules Poirot-type character.

And, of course, we have the policeman (Luke Brooks as Det. Sergeant Trotter) who will ultimately solve the multiple murders that stem from vengeance over a case from 20 years before.  No clues or spoilers here though, sorry.

Christie loved to incorporate fairy tales in her murder mysteries. GLT audiences will recall “Ten Little Soldiers” in last year’s hit Christie mystery “And Then There Were None.” This mystery features “Three Blind Mice,” as in three victims.

Sam McCalla, Assistant Artistic Director, directs this whodunit intelligently and at a brisk pace for an Agatha Christie work, and leaves everything and everyone open to suspicion, brilliantly accentuating several red herrings in our wake. Though, at one point in act one, Mr. Brooks did seem trapped in the same spot on stage right for an inordinate amount of time, instead of moving about naturally.

In addition the proficient cast, “The Mousetrap” is technically and creatively, profusely impeccable and gorgeous in every detail from Ms. McCalla’s regal country estate fitted with pristine arches and beautiful lead-lined glass windows to Thomas Brooks’ sublime costumes and wigs, and Cory Granner’s falling snow created by lighting effects.

Laura Wolfe is Stage Manager, Larry Hyder is Production Manager and Graham Shaffer is Technical Director.

“The Mousetrap” continues Thursday – Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. through October 1 at the Greenville Little Theatre, 444 College Street in Greenville. Call the Box Office at (864) 233-6238 or http://www.greenvillelittletheatre.org.

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