The Mousetrap More than half a century since it first opened on a London stage, Agatha Christie's old warhorse of a thriller The Mousetrap is still good fun. In the lively, imaginative production Gregory Boyd has directed this summer at the Alley Theatre, the oddball characters are full of the sort of vivacious energy that makes live theater such a rich experience. Set in a country guesthouse just outside of London, the very British tale imagines what happens when all the occupants get snowed in. They soon discover there's a murderer among them! Everyone's a suspect, starting with Mollie and Giles Ralston (Elizabeth Bunch and Chris Hutchison), the charming newlyweds who own the manor. After all, the first thing they do is lie to each other. Then there's the eccentric lineup of guests. Here comes Christopher Wren (Todd Waite at his irrepressibly giddy best), an architect whose electric-blue pants and wild hair grate on the nerves of Mrs. Boyle (a perfectly pinched-lipped Anne Quackenbush), a mean old witch of a woman who harrumphs about the place in her sensible shoes, glove-testing the furniture for dust. Miss Casewell (Josie de Guzman) is a walking mystery who smokes cigarettes as she moves gloomily about the great room. Only Major Metcalf (James Belcher) seems halfway ordinary, and even he is inordinately taken with prowling through the cellar of the building. When Mr. Paravicini (John Tyson) arrives unexpectedly, things only get weirder — and funnier. He's a man wearing makeup, after all. Detective Sergeant Trotter (Jeffrey Bean) arrives to sleuth out the killer among them, but of course, he can't save every intended victim from the evil within the house. At least one character dies before the night is through. Doors creak; there's that nasty business about those abused children down the lane; and that terrible tune "Three Blind Mice" keeps playing somewhere in the house. And so it is, without a drop of blood or a glimpse of gore, the Grande Dame of Whodunits, along with some help from the clever folks at the Alley, share with audiences the simple joys of a tale wonderfully told. Through August 8. 615 Texas, 713-228-8421. — LW

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