REVIEW: Hilberry opens killer 50th season with Agatha Christie’s “Mousetrap”

Reviewed by: Samantha White

Click HERE to read the review on the Oakland Press website!

Pictured: Alec Barbour (Giles Ralston), Megan Dobbertin (Mollie Ralston)
Photo by: Felix Li

Dame Agatha Christie’s murder-mystery thriller, “Mousetrap,” begins a killer season at Wayne State University’s Hilberry Theatre.

Christie’s work has been called the most popular literature in the world after William Shakespeare.

“Mousetrap” was named by Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-continuously running play of all time, having opened in London in 1952 still running to this day.

The play is beloved by audiences for its mystery, comedy, zany characters and all the wonderful trappings of a “whodunit” storyline.

IF YOU GO

Showtimes for “The Mousetrap” are at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Oct. 6, plus 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3. It runs through Oct. 13 at Hilberry Theatre, 4743 Cass Ave. in Detroit. Tickets are $12-$30. Visit www.hilberry.com or call 313-577-2972.

The mysterious murderer bases his killings around the English nursery rhyme “Three Blind Mice.”

The Hilberry delivers exactly what Christie intended when she wanted her audience to be on the edge of their seats.

The actors, Alec Barbour as Giles Ralston, Christopher Call as Detective Sergeant Trotter, Danielle Cochrane as Miss Casewell, Megan Dobbertin as Mollie Ralston, Edmund Alyn Jones as Mr. Paravicini, Topher Payne as Christopher Wren, Joshua Blake Rippy as Major Metcalf and Vanessa Sawson as Mrs. Boyle, all deliver steady performances.

There were some sound challenges at the beginning of opening night — a couple of the actors seemed to struggle with projection. But, this waned as the show moved forward.

The actors truly impressed with their British accents. They remained in character and never loss them as they navigated their way through the dialogue.

It was nice to see a really intricate and detailed set for “Mousetrap.” Occasionally, Hilberry seems to lean toward the less complicated. But, the scenic design of this show is absolutely wonderful — from the snow machine and trees to the thoughtful vintage furniture that decorates Mr. and Mrs. Ralston’s Monkswell Manor. The lighting softly augments the gorgeous scenery.

Edmund Alyn Jones is great as Mr. Paravicini. He is the comic relief of the show with all of his delightful eccentricities — not to mention the fact that he wears a smoking jacket as well as Hugh Hefner himself.

Vanessa Sawson’s Mrs. Boyle is also a brilliantly developed character. The young actress truly makes the audience believe she is the gray-haired, crotchety, stiff-upper-lipped Brit that Christie intended her to be.

Both Sawson and Jones are graduating seniors this school year and proof of the success of Wayne State’s graduate theater program — they are still learning, but are much more refined since their Hilberry debuts nearly three years ago.

Payne is entertaining as the quirky and rambunctious Christopher Wren. He teases Mrs. Boyle with the tenacity and terror of a 2-year-old. But, he also makes you, like Mrs. Ralston, want to protect him because of his childlike quality.

Hilberry gives a great homage to the Queen of Crime in this fine-tuned production.

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