FRONT ROW CENTER
By Kay Davis
Written by Agatha Christie
Directed by Roseann Wilshere
Mollie and Giles Ralston have a new hotel, snowed in with five guests. Detective Sergeant Trotter arrives on skis to warn the group that a murderer is on his way to the hotel, following the death of Mrs. Maureen Lyon in London.
When one of the guests, Mrs. Boyle, is killed, they realize the murderer is already there. Suspicion falls first on Christopher Wren, an erratic young man who fits the description of the supposed murderer. However, the killer could be any of the guests or even the hosts themselves.
As a mystery with more than 23,000 appearances on the London stage since 1952 and still running, this story deserves to remain untold. But here are the intriguing characters:
Maureen Lyon (unseen in the play) – the first victim, real name Stanning, imprisoned for abusing the three Corrigan children left in her and her husband’s foster care.
Mollie Ralston (Kristine Moily) – proprietor of the hotel and wife of Giles made a trip to London the day Maureen Lyon was murdered.
Giles Ralston (Tony Wilshere) – Mollie’s husband. The first suspect, Giles enters dressed in clothing similar to that worn by the killer.
Christopher Wren (Michael Warren) – the first guest to arrive, Wren is a peculiar young man.
Mrs. Boyle (Betty Lloyd Robinson) – a critical former magistrate, she placed the three children in Maureen Lyon’s care. Early on she is murdered.
Major Metcalf (Ray Himmelman) – retired from a career with the army, he is suspected as the possible father of the three abused youngsters.
Miss Casewell (Chris L’ecluse) – an aloof, masculine woman who tells tales of horror from her childhood. One possible conclusion is that she is one of the abused children, here to seek revenge.
Mr. Paravicini (Ed Tasca) – a man of unknown provenance, speaking an affected foreign accent and artificially aged with make-up.
Detective Sergeant Trotter (Keith Scott) – a policeman who arrives during the snow storm says he is there to protect the guests.
One of the first tests of an LLT production is how well it engages audience attention. It did that and more. The set was praised immediately, for which we thank Tod Jonson and Ektor Carranza.
Michael Warren’s performance as Christopher Wren was intriguing. His offbeat behavior delighted us, so uncharacteristic of his normally conservative style.
Tony Wilshire’s character of Giles Ralston spring to life although I would have preferred a warmer interaction with Kristine Moily’s character Molly, his bride of only one year.
Our on-stage victim, Mrs. Boyle, played by Betty Lloyd Robinson, was convincingly condescending. We expect to see her in comedic roles, but this one demonstrated her abilities in a serious, if all too brief, role.
Ray Himmelman, whose 27 years career as an RCAF pilot had to have been perfect casting, portrayed Major Metcalf.
And Chris L’ecluse as the mannish Miss Casewell showed us the latent talents this actress has only begun to reveal.
Keith Scott as Detective Sergeant Trotter had a challenging role, projecting almost dual personalities. Two viewers referred to the detective as a “strident” character. Yes, that’s acting – Trotter had more to show us.
Ed Tasca as the exotic Italian, Mr. Paravicini, added a Mediterranean flavor of authentic social position.
Roseann Wilshere directed this popular mystery with the assistance of Diane Jones, stage manager. It may seem impossible to fail with a play as successful as Mousetrap, but directing isn’t that easy. Thanks to everyone who pulled it together for our benefit.