Writer: Agatha Christie
Director: Ian Watt-Smith
Reviewer: John Roberts
Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap has been puzzling theatre goers and wannabe sleuths for just over 61 years, and with a continuous run of over 25,0000 performances has now firmly cemented itself ahead of its closest rival (Les Miserables) and to celebrate its Diamond Anniversary the production has embarked on its first ever UK tour. Having already played around the country for many months and will continue throughout 2014 this most famous of “Whodunits” lands for a week long run at the seafront Pavilion Theatre in Rhyl.
Originally starting off as a radio play entitled Three Blind Mice – the production is based on a true life story of Dennis O’Neill who died while in the foster care of of a Shropshire farmer and his wife. The production is set in the Great Hall of Monkswell Manor, where husband and wife Molly Ralston (Joanna Croll) and Giles (Henry Luxemburg) have embarked on a turning their home into a guesthouse, as each of their respective guests arrive, things quickly take a serious turn with the murder of the elderly yet slightly annoying Mrs Boyle (Anne Kavanagh) on premises.
With the unusual arrival of Detective Sergeant Trotter (Jonathan Wolf) tensions and tempers start to fly, and the accusations and finger of guilt are quickly pointed, but as with all good crime thrillers the audience are led on a merry chase trying to work out who the murderer really is, and that is in essence one of the best parts of the production.
Christie’s play is good wholesome fun, with plenty of laughs and witticisms throughout, The Mousetrap may feel slightly twee but with concise direction from Ian Watt-Smith the pace never lags and the performances from the cast shine.
Croll is delightful as proprietor Molly Ralston and is balanced wonderfully by a sharp and pointed performance by Luxemburg as husband Giles. Ryan Saunders delights as the foppish yet child-like Christopher Wren, while Karl Howman’s Mr Paravinci brings many laughs with his dry sardonic take on the character, yet it is Wolf as Sergeant Trotter who holds the whole mystery together – here he manages to sustain the detail needed without making the minutia superfluous and boring.
Played out in a stunning box set full of detail, the era is beautifully evoked and helps take you right back in time. Credit must be given to the sound team, it wasn’t until the end of the production when a loose microphone cable became apparent that one realised the cast were mic’d, testament to the quality of the work from this technical department.
The Mousetrap might not be a production that will set the world alight, but it is still a highly enjoyable evening at the theatre, especially for lovers of a good murder mystery.