Who hasn’t heard of the Agatha Christie whodunit “The Mousetrap”? It’s running in a London theater for about 60 years. So when I came to know that there was a production of the play being staged at Altarena Playhouse in Alameda, I was really excited. Quite natural, considering that I’m a true Agatha Christie fan.
When I booked the tickets, the lady on the phone insisted that there wasn’t a bad seat in the theater, and there was no need for assigned seating. I took it with a pinch of salt. On the day of the show, I did not want to take any chances, and left early enough to take care of the 40 minute drive with sufficient margin for the mad Friday evening traffic.
Alameda is a town on an island in the San Francisco bay, just across a bridge from Oakland, CA. The moment we entered the town, we were greeted by houses with an old time feel. Not much traffic on the street. When we reached Altarena theater, to my surprise, there was no parking lot for the theater! I parked on one of the side streets and went to the box office to collect our tickets.
The theater is located where where a grocery store operated back in time, when big box stores weren’t the norm. That explains the absence of a parking lot. It seats less than 200 people, and there is no stage! The set in in the middle of the theater with a few rows of seat set on three sides! As I was told, there is not a single bad seat in the theater!
The stage(!) was set in the center or the auditorium. The set depicted a day in 1952. Six guests arrive to a guest house, Monkswell Manor, in rural England.
Unfortunately, the weather Gods are playing bad, and there is a snow storm. And there is a murder in the house! The play deals in events that lead to the murder, and then deciphering the crime to reveal the identity of the killer. And if you’re new to Agatha Christie’s writing, you’d be very much surprised. And you’d be surprised if you had read the original story, “Three Blind Mice” as well, because Agatha Christie has slightly altered the plot, to make things more suitable for stage in this play. Just like in the London version of the play, the audience was asked not to reveal the identity of the killer :)
Although I’d read the short story, Three Blind Mice , and it’s play version, The Mousetrap before – I enjoyed every moment of this play! The set, costumes, music – everything took us to a different part of the world! Because of the way seats are laid out, I felt being a part of the play, rather than being in the audience!
This was very well produced, to say the least .
Looks like this place puts on excellent plays, an hopefully, I will catch some of the future show’s at Altarena. If you’re a theater buff in the San Francisco bay area, I suggest you to watch their page, for a very different theater experience.
Did you ask if there is a movie version of this play? No there isn’t. Originally when the play was produced, the contract said it could not be made into a movie until 3 months after the last stage show. Well, the stage shows haven’t stopped since 1952, and it might be a long wait if you want to see the movie version, looking the way it’s still going strong. So what’s your next best bet? Keep checking local productions, to see if anyone is staging The Mousetrap in your area!