Grab your magnifying glass and put on your deerstalker because a classic whodunit has come to the North Shore.
Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” the world’s longest-running play, begins on a snowy evening (an appropriate setting) as a couple celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary opens their guest house, Monkswell Manor. They soon realize that all of their tenants are odd, grumpy or mysterious. Things only get worse, however, when the police call and say they’ll be sending over a detective. Why? There has been a murder and the police fear the killer will strike again at Monkswell Manor.
Once Sergeant Trotter (Greg Matthew Anderson) skis his way over to the guest house, he asks everyone to cooperate with his investigation. Of course, no one is completely honest, making everyone a suspect.
First, there are the owners of Monkswell Manor, Giles and Mollie Ralston, played by Keith Neagle and Cora Vander Broek. Mrs. Ralston is constantly on the move, working to cook and clean for her guests even when they complain about the conditions of the home. Mr. Ralston, on the other hand, is quick to let his guests know that they have no obligation to stay. Neither really knows how to run a guest house, and both are lying about where they were the day before.
Then there’s Christopher Wren, the first guest to arrive. Christopher laughs at inappropriate times, isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind, and does not appear to own a hairbrush. He also admits to being on the run, but from what, he won’t say. Joey deBettencourt, who you may remember as the lead from the Broadway First National Tour of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” plays this character to peculiar perfection.
The manor’s oldest guest, Mrs. Boyle (Laura T. Fisher), is put out from the start, unhappy with the condition of the house and the Ralstons’ lack of experience. She is also the most adamantly in denial of Sergeant Trotter’s suspicions that there is a murderer in their midst.
Other suspects include Miss. Casewell (Lindsey Pearlman), a young woman who seems to have plenty of her own secrets, Major Metcalf (Patrick Clear), a retired Army vet who has a very keen interest in the Ralston house, and Mr. Paravicini (Joe Dempsey), who never actually made a reservation to stay at the guest house but finds himself there after his car gets stuck in a ditch during the snowstorm. Dempsey steals the show with his laugh-out-loud humor.
So who’s the killer? I’d never say, and it’s customary for audiences to be asked to keep the play’s ending a secret. But, you will have a 15-minute intermission to discuss your suspicions with those around you, and even enter a “guess the murderer” contest.
Whether you have to trek through your own snowstorm or not, make your way to Northlight for this mystery. The theater, celebrating 40 years, has a hit on its hands.
“The Mousetrap” runs through Dec. 21 at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. Tickets cost $15-78 and can be purchased online or by calling 847-673-6300. For more information, visit the theater’s website.