PLAY REVIEW: Richland Players present a superb puzzle in 'Mousetrap'

Nancy Welliver, special to the Tri-City HeraldJanuary 22, 2014 

Will Thurston, Samantha Weakley (seated), Mark Miranda, Christopher Wilson, Cameron Rush, Nadine Haglin, Heidi Dagle and Bill McMahon star in The Mousetrap, a Richland Players production.

RICK REIL, REALIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

The famous 1952 play by Agatha Christie -- The Mousetrap -- still has chills and comedy.

The Richland Players present the classic mystery Jan. 24-25, 31 and Feb. 1 at The Players Theatre in Richland.

It takes place in an English guest house straight out of a game of Clue. Leather chairs, a cozy fire, a truly dreadful overstuffed sofa, and mahogany paneling are all part of the scene.

The play is hilarious and engaging. In fact, the performance would be quite a page-turner if it were a book and not a play.

Much of the suspense comes from the antics of Mrs. Ralston, played by Samantha Weakley. She manages to screech and tremble through her funniest lines, conveying a marvelous mixture of comic haplessness and anxious dread. Her costumes, in the form of ridiculously exaggerated plaid skirts and homey aprons, add the right piquant note.

The entire cast gives a most impressive showing, deepening the creepy atmosphere and leaving the audience wondering what happens next.

In typical Agatha Christie fashion, each of the characters is an odd duck. One of the pleasures of this play was watching the actors relish their roles. It must be difficult to play a part in which the actor must stay in a past time period, remain in character, pretend to be frightened, and not know the ending. It came together wonderfully.

The play hit its mark as several discussions about the killer's identity were heard in the lobby of the theater during intermission.

This reviewer was fortunate enough to catch a sold-out showing of the play. The audience and its nervous laughter and hold-your-breath moments definitely enhanced the action on stage.

Simply put, the show was well acted and would probably appeal to anyone, particularly those who like mysteries and a fair amount of verbal silliness on the stage.

The only mystery left is: Will you enjoy it as much as this reviewer did?

-- Nancy Welliver is a longtime supporter of the arts. She has worked at Hanford as an engineer and is a member of the Camerata Musica organization.

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