Review: The Master Meets the Dame

Photo by Alicia Donelan

Peter Amster directs Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’ at the Maltz

Director Peter Amster, by his own declaration of being 65 years old, is two years older than Agatha Christie’s play, “The Mousetrap,” which opened in London’s West End in 1952 and opens at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, under Amster’s direction, on Oct. 25.

“The Mousetrap is a delightfully clever mystery that has been thrilling theater goers for more than six decades, and we are truly excited about producing the show here in Jupiter,” said Andrew Kato, the Theatre’s producing artistic director. “The identity of the killer is a legendary secret of the play and, famously, all audiences must take a pledge not to reveal ‘whodunit.’ It’s the ultimate murder mystery.”

With more than 26,000 performances The Mousetrap is the longest running play in history and contributes to the list of superlatives achieved by Dame Agatha, including the best-selling novelist of all time, outselling all other publications except the Bible and Shakespeare.

No slouch in the superlatives department himself, Amster claims more than 300 productions over his career, many of them listed on the Maltz website. If he directs with the enthusiasm and ebullience he expressed during a recent conversation, it’s going to be a wonderful show.

“It’s a magnificent play,” he said. “Christie’s character development is splendid and many of them reflect the effects of childhood psychological abuse that most of us can understand and compassion.”

“Of course, it’s a little dated in some ways,” he continued. “But that’s part of the charm. Describing a male character as ‘acting in a very peculiar way’ or referring to a female as ‘mannish’ are touches of the homophobic tabus of the mid-20th century.”

“And isolation is different,” Amster continued. “In ’52 you could create suspense by cutting the telephone line. Today it’s almost impossible to become isolated when everyone has a cell phone. Still, everyone has felt isolated at one time or another so it still works.

After 40 years in Chicago, Amster and his partner, Peter Galati, himself an award-winning director, moved to Sarasota where they are affiliated with the Asolo Repetory Theatre.

“I love the Maltz,” said Amster in answer to a question. “They are truly professional and make everyone feel right at home. Andrew said he wants a family atmosphere and he’s achieving it.”

The Mousetrap kicks off the Maltz’s 2015/16 season, Another Opn’in’, Another Show. The production is sponsored by the John McDonald Company. The theatre is located at 1001 East Indiantown Road in Jupiter33477. Single tickets start at $55. For tickets, call 561-575-2223 or visit www.JupiterTheatre.org/shows/themousetrap.


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