Agatha Christie would have cried. And not out of joy. The production is an adaptation of THE MOUSE TRAP, one of the best ever written plays by this renowned crime writer, and one of the oldest productions in the history of theatre. Surely it needs a lot more than a good set. Alas! That was all that was there to this production. A good set, good clothes and a good-looking cast. Apart from that, everything, right from the script to the performance was in simply dire straits.
The story is set in the Monkswell Manor, a new hotel owned and started by a couple, Mollie and Giles Ralston. They are snowed in together with five guests. Detective Sergeant Trotter arrives on skis shortly to inform the group that he believes 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 realise that the murderer is already there. Initially, the suspicion falls first on erratic Christopher Wren.
However, it quickly transpires that the killer could be anyone in the hotel. The twist at the end of the play is what makes Agatha Christie one of the best crime fiction writers. And to imagine the audience laughing in that part should be enough to see why this production simply doesn't work.
Curiously the actors in this play seemed to be inspired by the Indian cricket team. When one player of our team goes down, others follow suit without argument. The same seemed to happen in the play as well. The lead actor started the play on a fumbling note and every actor and even the lighting guy followed suit.
Apart from the fumbling with lines and the akwardness around the set, the actors traversed the length of the stage with either blank looks or very loud expressions. The fact that a good performance lies somewhere in between the two was lost on everyone in the cast.
The worst part was that the intricacies of the emotions of each character, apart from Mrs. Boyle and Christopher Wren, were not portrayed effectively. And even with their characters, there was a need to go further. To perform an emotionally intense drama like this, one needs to understand the psychology of the character. It's a pity that neither the director nor the actors tried doing that. In fact characters like Major Metcalf and Mr. Paravichini went completely unexplained.
Laura Mishra who played the role of Mollie Ralston should have stuck with only directing this play. Maybe then we could have seen a better version of the original. She was awkward, slow and expressionless. Deboshi Barat playing her husband Giles Ralston was better. However, the audience seemed more impressed by his looks than his acting skills.
Aman Khan who played the role of Christopher Wren was overall good but he too got irritating in some parts, where he over did his erratic character. Abhishek Dubey playing Major Metcalf acted well. Miss Casewell (Prerna Talwar) was bad and so was Detective Sergeant Trotter, played by Naveen Talreja. Mr. Paravichini (Sumanto Chattopadhya) was good but could have been better.
The light design by Tathagata Chowdhury was simply ridiculous. In some parts where the scene required sharper lighting, it went dull, and scenes where soft lightning was needed, it seemed like bright dawn! The Music by Suprateek Chatterjee more than often drowned the dialogues of the actors and then stopped abruptly as well. The set designed by Guruji was one of the best that I have seen and the costumes by Vikram Chowdhury were classy too. But that's hardly why you'd want to invest your time and money.
*Pooja Gautam is a business journalist who enjoys theatre.