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The Mousetrap puts on fun house finery at Court

Sean Graney directs a revival of the most commercially successful play ever. Since Agatha Christie’s comic whodunit The Mousetrap premiered in 1952 in London, it has never stopped running. So what can a new production add?

For the very few theatergoers (like me) who have never seen the play before: A group of guests arrive at a newly opened inn while a murderer is loose in the countryside. A snowstorm leaves them isolated and one of them may be the murderer. A brave constable arrives on skis to solve a mystery where no one is who they say they are.

The actors sell the relentless, over-the-top mugging of the script the best they can, but the true stars of this production are Arnel Sancianco’s fun house mirror set and Alison Siple’s cartoon-like color-coded costumes. The ceiling of Monkswell Manor is impossibly high, while doors are just tall enough to admit a person without stooping; this house is basically telling us that reality is being bent here. The extravagant garb advertises that each of these characters is putting us on.

As far as the nonstop droll banter goes, it grows a bit stale after two-plus hours—much like the hard candies everyone keeps popping in their mouths, then throwing away. Whether you find it all a delightful confection or a bit too sickly sweet is a question mark, but murder and deceit have rarely been appointed or dressed so well.  v

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