Alley Resident Company Members Melissa Pritchett (Mollie Ralston) and Shawn Hamilton (Major Metcalf) in Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap.
Alley Resident Company Members Melissa Pritchett (Mollie Ralston) and Shawn Hamilton (Major Metcalf) in Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap.
Photo by Lynn Lane

Snowed In (a Claustrophobic's Horror) — Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap — Returns to the Alley

Talk about a really bad first day. Mollie Ralston and her husband Giles have just opened their bed and breakfast and they get hit by some really bad weather. By the next day they and all their paid guests are snowed in. Meanwhile, they've heard a radio report that a woman has been murdered nearby and that the culprit is still on the loose.

"Not only do they get snowed in but they are potentially snowed in with someone trying who is trying to kill them all," says Alley Resident Theatre Company member Melissa Pritchett who plays Mollie.

Yes it's the return of a classic audience pleaser: Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap once again poised to show off the ensemble skills of the Alley Theatre company members.

"There's a reason it’s run for 66 years in London because you can come back to it even if you know the twists," Pritchett says. The murder mystery remains set in the 1950s, since a major plot point involves a cut phone line, she says.

Pritchett has seen the play but never done it before. "I still find myself in rehearsal thinking 'that’s really interesting, that really points to that character. That really makes them seem guilty or really makes them seem innocent.'"

Half the actors have done the show before but are in different roles, except for Chris Hutchison who plays her husband. "But everybody else who's done it before is in a different role and the rest of us are new to the script."  Other cast members include Resident Company members Elizabeth Bunch as Miss Casewell, Shawn Hamilton as Major Metcalf, Dylan Godwin as Christopher Wren, Jay Sullivan as Sergeant Trotter, and Todd Waite as Paravicini. Alice M. Gatling as Mrs. Boyle returns to the Alley. Interim Artistic Director James Black is directing.

The Mousetrap definitely lends itself to being on stage, Pritchett says. "You can’t change locations. You can't go to an outdoor shot. Even though you know people leave this one room and they go different places — they go to a bedroom or they go to the kitchen — and you can imagine they're in there, but having the audience be contained in this closed set I think really helps get that snowed in feeling."

Mousetrap is really interesting too, she says, because there isn't a Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot there to solve the mystery. "There isn't a detective that's holding the audience's hand or helping guide them through it. It's really the audience gets to play detective in this one."

Asked how she thought she'd behave in a situation similar to the one in the play, Pritchett laughs and says:

"I personally am first so claustrophobic  I don’t know how I would handle being snowed in somewhere. I feel like I'd run and hide and lock myself in a room. I don’t think I’d be as brave as Mollie is who's trying to solve this mystery.

Performances are scheduled for August 15 through September 2 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in Alley Theatre's Hubbard Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $26-$49.

Update: Performances have been extended through September 16, 2018.

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