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Mousetrap's Ending

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Upon emerging from The Mousetrap, I could not help but wonder: why, in its final moments, did Agatha Christie’s world-renowned, keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat murder mystery juxtapose death with dessert? After laying a smorgasbord of provocative ingredients on the table, Christie concocts…a pie? Yes, culminating The Mousetrap with a slice of comedy à la mode is sure to heartily entertain throngs of theatergoers, but doing so also begs the question: does such a finale truly do the play justice? My post-reading and post-viewing dissatisfaction with The Mousetrap’s ending proves doubly noteworthy when one takes into consideration the genre of Christie’s work. After all, why should it matter that a murder mystery concludes on a comedic note?…show more content…
That’s the ending? The Mousetrap owes us—and has earned—more than a simple, laughter-inducing, tension-relieving conclusion. In his post-production talkback at Princeton’s McCarter Theater, director Adam Immerwahr told the class that laughter is precisely what the audience needs after such a nail-biting affair. However, is this truly the best option? Yes, considerable tension has been building throughout the course of the show—but why not leave some with audience members? Were the production to directly succeed its murderer reveal with a final tableau of Trotter and Miss Casewell standing side by side—all at once together yet apart—it would initiate consciousness, shining light on a truly muddled scenario. Complex issues would rise to the surface: ones of torture, injustice, revenge, and trauma—of scars that can never be healed. By quickly brushing Trotter and Miss Casewell offstage and aside, however, the play is not doing its intricacies justice. The world is not a place where issues are solved at a moment’s notice—has The Mousetrap not spent its duration proving this point by showing the past’s persistence in the present? And yet, the Simon French version of the play culminates with the swift disappearance of problems, an exuberant gift exchange, and a line about a burning pie. Similarly, in the West End version of its script, The Mousetrap concludes with Christopher Wren popping onstage and…show more content…
Indeed, this guarantee of continuity and permanence is one of the real consolations of the form,” (14). I, however, could not dissent more with the above-mentioned sentiments. Admittedly, the play’s characters do come off as static at times. Nevertheless, as the plot progresses and the past catches up with the present, the characters’ complexities seep into the text. The cast may be stuck—snowed in at Monkswell Manor—but they are far from static. Christopher Wren, we soon learn, is not simply a stereotypically flamboyant gay man who thinks fourposters are “terrific!” Instead, he is a tortured soul—mistreated and suffering. Similarly, Molly is not a one-dimensional, effervescent blonde innkeeper. On the contrary, she is a strong woman—one who can take charge, means business, and is struggling to conquer a past that plagues her to this day. Miss Casewell, too, is someone who has fought to escape her past but who finds it catching up with her, bit by bit. As corroborated by the Utah Shakespearean Festival’s “Mousetrap Study Guide”: Much of the charm of the piece comes from Christie’s skill at developing character. Everyone in The Mousetrap has a secret, some of which are innocent, but Christie gives us the possibility of each person being the villain, without ever caricaturing any of
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