Possibly the only thing worse than staying in a hotel with a murderer is being trapped in a hotel with a murderer. Unfortunately for the characters of the Dickinson Community Players’ (DCP) upcoming play, that’s the reality of “The Mousetrap.”
From Agatha Christie, the matron of mystery herself, “The Mousetrap” is the longest-running show in history, celebrating over 60 continuous years of production in the West End of London.
Anyone familiar with Binghamton University’s theater scene will recognize many faces of members of the Hinman Production Company (HPC) among the cast and crew. For a while now, the scene has been clearly divided between the HPC productions in Hinman’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Center and DCP productions in the Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center (C4) Multipurpose Room. “The Mousetrap” represents a joint effort between both theater groups to break the mold of DCP vs. HPC and form a more cohesive acting community. It’s being co-directed by Spenser Bivona, vice president of DCP and a sophomore majoring in anthropology, and Matthew Long, an actor for HPC and a sophomore majoring in English.
While the story gets a little slow at times, there are always deeper mysteries to unravel. There’s only one murderer, but everyone is somehow tied up in a larger mystery. The audience won’t stop at asking, “Who’s the murderer?” but will also question each individual’s motives for their actions.
“The play gives the back stories of each person, driving the story toward revealing who the murderer is, and who is the next to be murdered,” Long said.
The performers do a great job at keeping the ending a secret, which is probably the most important part of this kind of play. The play is famous for its twist ending and, while it takes some time to get there, the final reveal of the murderer is well performed and resolves the plot satisfyingly.
Despite taking place in London, most of the cast doesn’t adopt an English accent. While the mix of accents is strange at first, it’s excusable given the hotel setting. It stands to reason that all the guests aren’t necessarily from England, and it’s better that the cast use accents they’re comfortable with instead of failing at an English one.
Problems that often befall upon DCP and HPC alike usually involve limited budgets for sets as well as makeshift theater conditions. It doesn’t take a stage manager to tell that the C4 Multipurpose Room wasn’t built for theatrical performances. The play is set in the common room of an old English manor house, and one can imagine the structural limitation C4 puts in place.
“Capturing the essence of the manor house isn’t as important as building up suspense,” Long said. “We’re in C4, we don’t have the biggest budget, but we can create that air of suspense and mystery, the legitimate theatre experience.”
Despite their limitations, the crew does a sufficient job at making the space work. While the lighting often casts shadows on the actors’ faces, and the narration could be better served with some digital doctoring, at the end of the day the design is intelligent and executed as well as the infrastructure allows. They built a set, created a scene and made it work. They definitely deserve some props for that.
If you’re in the mood for a murder mystery whodunnit, stop by the C4 Multipurpose Room this weekend for “The Mousetrap” presented by the Dickinson Community Players. Tickets are $3 at the door and there will be shows at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.