2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Photo courtesy Trudie Lee

Theatre Calgary brings the world’s longest-running murder mystery to the stage 

By Ansharah Shakil, October 4 2023—

The Mousetrap is arguably Agatha Christie’s most famous play, or at the very least it is famous for being the longest-running play in the world, opening in October 1952 in London’s West End and going strong for over 70 years. Only the pandemic brought a halt to its continuous performances, but as of right now the play has picked up its long-running streak once again, and for its current season Theatre Calgary has brought the play to Calgary audiences.

The play takes place in the midst of a violent storm, depicted in the play’s set through a window with a backdrop of snow in the centre of the stage. It’s a simple setting, with only one room, but filled with gorgeous detail. The picture-perfect set is breathtaking enough to distract from the news delivered to the audience as soon as the show begins, of Maureen Lyon’s murder in London and a killer on the loose. Meanwhile in Monkswell Manor, Molly and Giles Ranston are setting up their new guesthouse and welcoming their four expected guests — and their unexpected ones. 

No one has ever quite been able to create a cast of outlandish, mysterious murder mystery characters like Christie, but the actors of The Mousetrap easily rise to the challenge of portraying these madcap characters. Vanessa Leticia Jette as Molly and Mike Tan as Giles carry themselves with poise on stage. Jette especially throws herself into being Molly, vivacious and animated even as her happy veneer slowly crumbles throughout the rest of the play, while Tan is excellent in his line delivery and mannerisms.  

The couple’s guests are Matthew Mooney as the young and slightly unhinged Christopher Wren, Natascha Girgis as the dignified and severe ex-magistrate Mrs. Boyle, Robert Klein as the elderly Major Metcalfe and Kit Benz as the androgynous Miss Casewell. 

Each member of the cast is phenomenal in the way that they fully inhabit their characters, but Mooney and Benz are standouts, provoking strong emotion in just a few seconds and endearing their characters to the audience immediately even when they bring suspicion upon themselves. Benz’s Miss Casewell is full of cool composure when they march inside Monkswell Manor, while Mooney’s Christopher is a wreck of nerves that stumbles across the stage being alternately odd or moving, or both, but always with a compelling performance. 

Just when Molly and Giles are beginning to get used to their overwhelming new guests, the foreigner Mr. Paravicini (Christian Goutsis) arrives at the door to ask for shelter. Goutsis’s Paravicini, whose grace is at odds with his mysterious words of advice and his amusing one-liners, makes an extremely strong impression. The guests are all suspicious around and of each other, but before any of them can fully adjust to each other, Sergeant Trotter (Tyrell Crews), a commanding presence who ramps up the tension in the play, sweeps in on his skis to warn them that Maureen Lyon’s murderer is after one of them next. 

If the excellent cast wasn’t enough, the technical production of the play is remarkable. Haunting sound design, coiffed and careful costuming and stunning light effects all combine to make a perfect murder mystery. The light design in particular adds to the atmosphere of the play: chilling moments of revelation have the lights turning from the warm orange to a cool blue, while the eerie score gets louder in the background. 

The Mousetrap isn’t Christie’s most brilliant murder mystery, but it is still an excellent one. It’s the stuff of history and will remain immortal forever. The fresh and lively performances of the Theatre Calgary cast lit up the stage in this iteration of its performance; the audience laughed and gasped at appropriate times, and connected to the play even after all these years. 

As we were told at the end of the play, and as every audience has been traditionally told during every performance of The Mousetrap, keep the secret of who did it locked in your heart — but if you want to know, or if you simply want to see an old classic carried out to new heights, you can find tickets for The Mousetrap, running until Oct. 8, here.

Hiring | Staff | Advertising | Contact | PDF version | Archive | Volunteer | SU

The Gauntlet