Writer: Agatha Christie
Director: Ian Watt-Smith
Reviewer: Matthew Bagnall
Arguably theatre’s most popular and recognised Whodunnit has arrived in Wolverhampton, leaving locals guessing and placing their bets as to who is the mystery killer! Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is currently on a UK National Tour after celebrating sixty years as the longest running play in the West End.
Set in a typically picturesque, old fashioned English manor, Giles and Mollie Ralston have opened up a new guest residence: Monkhouse Manor. They’re quite inexperienced and they have next to no information about their guests who arrive one by one. This proves costly. We’re introduced to a series of guests who each have their own unique and distinctive personality.
The audience will either love or hate the flamboyant and energetic Christopher Wren, a self-proclaimed architect. Although it must be said, you’ll find his intrusive and unwelcome appearances in times of clear tension and anxiety a treat. Edward Elwood delivers the outlandish personality of Christopher very well, and provides many moments of laughter for the audience. His relationship with Giles Ralston upon his arrival is wonderful to watch as we see the clear distaste from Ralston Anne Kavanagh as the forever unimpressed and unsatisfied Mrs Boyle plays a very believable rôle as we witness her constant complaints about possibly everything you could think of within the manor. The character brings real significance to the mystery as well as laughter from her blunt and stubborn nature. Mrs Boyle’s interaction with the other guests is a joy to watch as she certainly fails to make any new friends! Jocasta King does a fine job as understudy for Hester Arden in the rôle of Mrs Casewell. She demonstrates real subtlety in the rôle, as is required for the character. We also meet an unexpected arrival in Mr Paravicini who teases the audience with his playful attitude and many light hearted references to murder and the untrustworthy guests. Jonathon Sedgwick excels in performing the mischievous and bizarre personality of Paravicini.
As with any murder, there must be an investigation. In charge of this is Sgt Trotter who duly arrives at the manor in the most unbelievable way when expectations for his arrival are low because of the blizzard outside. Luke Jenkins presents the authority needed for such a rôle with real clarity, and is certainly believable. William Ilkley also delivers a professional performance as Major Metcalf – A more relaxed and conservative character throughout the play. The whole cast are consistent with their vocal projection levels, which is important in a large auditorium, including Mark Homer and Esther McAuley as the owners of the manor.
The set is very practical and represents the old English manor very well. The use of projections and sound effects to show the blizzard conditions outside make the set much more believable as does the use of fake snow on the characters costumes as they arrive at the manor.
In all, if you’re interested in gripping murder mysteries, or are familiar with the work of Agatha Christie and other notable murder mystery plays – by the likes of J.B Priestley – then this is certainly worth a watch. It leaves you guessing throughout, and lives up to the expectation many have following its 60th anniversary. All they ask is to keep the secret safe. You’ll become partners in crime!
Photo: Maria Dawson | Runs until: Saturday 4th July