The question for the Hobart Repertory Theatre Societyis: can we build a better mousetrap?Answer? If not better, then as-faithfully-good as any Mousetrap can be.The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie opened in London’s West End in 1952, and has been running continuously since then. Now in its 60th year, it has the longest initial run of any play in history, with over 24,500 performances so far. It is the longest running show (of any type) of the modernera. Now released for other companies to perform, it’s becoming a must-do ensemble piece for amateur theatre troupes. Why? Because it’s pure theatrical entertainment, that’s why. Although cliché to some modern audiences, The Mousetrap has, in a way, set the standard for the “whodunit” genre. Another reason for its popularity is that it’s an institution, a benchmark, even. The Hobart Repertory Theatre Society production of the Mousetrap appeared to be faithful to the Christie mould. It was obvious that the cast adored playing their part in bringing this classic to local audiences. The enthusiastic audience approved and applauded this tightly woven production, laughing, gasping, anticipating and trying to solve “whodunit”.
That we all know the answer to the murder mystery is not important: it’s part of the game to work out the clues and hopefully discover who the murderer is, before his/her identity is revealed. A group example of “willing suspension of disbelief”! We want to go along with it because it’s all part of the entertainment/escapism/enjoyment equation. They do it – we go along with it, and have a good time.
Ingrid Ganley is an experienced and sensitive director, extracting good performances from a good cast, some old troupers and some newer to the thespian game. Accents were believable and well maintained throughout. Mike Edwards’ top-notch performance as the upright and dependable although mysterious Major Metcalf was a foil for the irritatingly crotchety Cathy Spencer as Mrs Boyle and the sweet and fussing willingness-to-get-it-right Mrs Ralston played by Eleanor Morgan. Character contrasts came in the form of her husband Giles Ralston, seriously played by Jared Goldsmith and effervescent Aidan Furst as the scatty Christopher Wren. Sarah Phillips, with her lovely diction and haughty manner was perfectly believable as Miss Casewell. David Bannister did a wonderful job as the officious and nervy Inspector Trotter. Jeff Keogh rounded out the cast as Mr Paravicini, with extravagant accent and makeup. Designer and scenic art whizz William Dowd created an excellent set, allowing plenty of scope for the expected comings and goings of drawing room comedy. Peter West’s lighting design executed ably by Liz Lewinski made for subtle but effective scene and mood changes. Keep ‘em guessing until the very last is the formula: it worked a treat with another ensemble success by Hobart Repertory Theatre Society. Of course, the audience was entreated by the cast “not to tell”, as it should be. Get along to find out whodunit: not that it matters. You’ll get what you came for - laughs, gasps and suspense: the perfect murder mystery.
Photographer: John King-Smith