Theatre cliches taken literally

Ben Knowles (right), who was originally cast as Giles Ralston, hands over the reigns to Sebastion Fabre at the Invercargill Repertory Society's rehearsal of The Mousetrap in Invercargill on Monday night.

THERE are two common sayings in theatre – “break a leg” and the “show must go on”.

Little did the cast and crew of Invercargill Repertory Society’s latest production The Mousetrap think the sayings would have so much relevance when they started rehearsals this year.

Director David Pottinger said a skateboarding accident left Ben Knowles unable to perform in his role of Giles Ralston.

“Rehearsals were progressing well, the set had been constructed, costumes selected and props gathered when three weeks out, one cast member decided to give skateboarding a try.”

“The diagnosis was a broken achilles tendon and 10 weeks in a moon-boot.”

As the part is quite physical in nature, a new cast member needed to be found… and fast.

While rehearsals continued, with Knowles still reading the part, the hunt began for a young man to be cast in his place.

However, it wasn’t an easy task finding someone to fill his shoes.

“Invercargill has a large number of talented actors but when you’re looking for a specific gender and age bracket, then the number gets smaller,” Pottinger said.

“This applies especially after a fellow society has just completed a wonderful season of a leading musical and they are all looking for a rest. A number of those talented young men, the bracket I was looking at, have launched themselves into an exciting new project and were therefore unavailable.”

That is until last week, when Sebastion Fabre, who recently performed in the Invercargill Musical Theatre Company’s production of Les Miserables, stepped up to take on the part.

Pottinger said there were very few opportunities for The Mousetrapto be performed, but an email from Playbereau, the for Samuel French, invited the Invercargill society to put on the play.

“Because of the Covid situation in the UK and the effect it was having on the theatre industry, the owners of The Mousetrap rights, wished to make the play available to groups who would not normally get the chance to perform it.”

The play had been running in England continuously since it began in 1952 until Covid-19 closed it down for more than a year. It holds the world record for most continuous play performances.

It is well known for its secrecy, as all audiences are asked to never divulge whodunnit.

It is the tale of a group of strangers who become stranded in a boarding house during a snow storm, one of whom is a murderer.

The suspects include a newly-married couple who run the house whose suspicions nearly wreck their perfect marriage. Others are a spinster with a curious background, an architect who seems better equipped to be a chef, a retired Army major, a strange little man who claims his car has overturned in the drift, and a jurist who makes life miserable for everyone.

Into their midst comes a policeman, travelling on skis. He no sooner arrives, than the jurist is killed.

The policeman probes the background of everyone present, and rattles a lot of skeletons.

The show’s season, which was originally scheduled for mid-August, had been postponed until September 14 to 18, Pottinger said.

  • Tickets will be available to buy from August 30.