A Better Mousetrap 

Strong cast to enliven the usual suspects

Oh, they're crafty ones out there at the Lesher Center. Resident theater company Center REPertory Company is presenting Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, whose 55-year-and-still-going run on London's West End is easily the longest run of any play on record. (Sorry, Beach Blanket Babylon. Suck it, Cats.) This drawing-room murder-mystery chestnut is the kind of show that's going to attract audiences no matter what the critics may say, never mind that Christie's brand of whodunit isn't a matter of artful misdirection so much as flat-out cheating, and her red herrings don't make any sense in terms of plot or character but exist only to screw with the viewer. None of that makes a lick of difference. But seemingly not content with hooking the Rossmoor crowd right off the bat, Center REP has rounded up a terrific cast to attract theater cognoscenti as well.

In a production directed by his wife Timothy Near, outgoing artistic director of San Jose Rep, company artistic director Michael Butler joins James Carpenter, Cassie Beck, Mark Farrell, Craig Marker, Carrie Paff, Kerri Shawn, and Mark Anderson Phillips in the pool of suspects who may get bumped off or possibly do the bumping — who can say? And if you happen to know, don't spoil the surprise so that a new generation of viewers can gasp and say, "Seriously?! Oh, come on!" Consider it a rite of passage, or at the very least a hazing ritual. The Mousetrap runs through November 17 at the Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek. Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays-Saturdays 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets cost $33-$39. For more info: LesherArtsCenter.org or 925-943-7469.

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