3269 Casitas Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Region: Northeast L.A.
Build a better mousetrap, it is said, and the world will beat a path to your door. Or at least to Atwater Village, where playwright Jami Brandli's clever, three-character riff on the venerable West End murder mystery The Mousetrap is attempting to give Agatha Christie a run for her money. Call it a hipster whodunit. Actually, "who-maybe-dunit" might be the better descriptive, because in Brandli's ironic puzzler of red herrings and drifting ambiguities, the ostensible murder ratcheting its mystery-plot mechanics might not have even occurred. Brandli's recipe is deceptively familiar: Take a connivingly ambitious, aspiring-writer grad student (Diana Wyenn); place her in the blizzard-isolated Boston apartment (by set and lighting designer Aaron Francis) of an absent breakout novelist; mix in an achingly needy and sexually insecure roommate (Michael Kass); introduce a chronically possessive editor-lover with a bad disposition and a tripwire temper (Jessica Hanna); season to taste with betrayal, double dealing and buried family secrets. Then bring to a rapid boil and stand back. Director Darin Anthony stirs Brandli's irresistible, toxic stew of psychological grotesques with a sure hand and a comic touch, while Joseph "Sloe" Slawinski's sound helps crank the mounting paranoia and uncertainty all the way up to 11. Atwater Village Speakeasy Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Atwater; Sat. & Mon., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through April 15. (323) 644-1929, soetheplay.com.
Saturdays, Sundays, 8 p.m.; Mondays, 7 p.m. Starts: March 23. Continues through April 15, 2013