Writer: Agatha Christie
Director: Ian Watt-Smith
Reviewer: Liza Kyle
We could start by breaking with tradition and announcing to the world that it was Colonel Mustard, in the kitchen with the lead pipe who ‘dun it’, but that really would let the 62 year old cat of the bag.
Despite its longevity, The Mousetrap remains something of an enigma with most people having heard of the show, but only those who have seen it knowing the truth behind the final act. However, given the longevity of the production, there must now be a fair few who are in on the secret.
Originally written for the BBC as a short story entitled “Three Blind Mice” for Queen Mary’s 80th Birthday, Agatha Christie later adapted it for the stage and in 1952 The Mousetrap opened in London’s West End. It has now become the longest continually running stage show in the history of British Theatre with over 25,000 performances, and more than 400 actors and actresses playing the eight characters since the original members were cast.
The scene is set when a group of strangers staying in a newly opened guest house owned by Giles and Molly Ralston (Henry Luxemburg and Joanna Croll) are cut off by the snow only to discover that there is a ‘homicidal maniac’ in their midst. As the characters’ backgrounds are revealed, some in much more detail than others, the audience is left moving their accusatory eyes from one suspect to the other without really being given any real substance upon which to base their suspicions. It does feel in parts that some of the dialogue is purely for padding purposes, but then Christie is a mistress of the unexpected twist so you can never discount the content or take too much for granted.
The staging of Monkswell Manor is elegantly set with wood panelling, stained windows and subtle atmospheric lighting and despite never moving from the main drawing room, the convincing weather reminds us why there’s no escape for the unfortunate guests. The cast are well matched and each plays their respective rôle with the level of depth and conviction that the script requires.
It may not be the most contemporary piece of theatre on the stage today, and just maybe the audiences of the 50s were more shocked than those watching the show today, but it holds a very fond place in the heart of many theatre goers and it may just find itself continuing to do so for many more years to come.
Runs until: Saturday 21 June 2014