Writer: Agatha Christie
Director: Ian Watt-Smith
Reviewer: Dominic Corr
With over 60 years of mystery and well over 25,000 performances Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap lives on firmly at King’s Theatre Edinburgh. As the classic whodunit of the theatre The Mousetrap has kept the identity of its murderer secret in the longest running production of modern times. This anniversary tour brings charm and cliché across the country – drawing the audience into the heart of the conundrum outside of its West End home.
Our cast of eccentric characters find themselves stranded in the newly opened Monkwell manor guest house, a snow storm trapping them with one of theatre’s most elusive murderers. As the play progresses we gain more insight into each member of the colorful cast while also creating more enigma surrounding the events. With the strike of a second murder and a third looming overhead it is highly advised not to invest heavily in a favourite character…
The cast is minimal but concentrated, all delving into their characters with ease and fully immersing into the stories mood and humour. Characters such as Christopher Wren (Stephen Yeo) and Mr. Paravicini (Michael Fenner) provide much of the productions less than subtle performances, however these deliveries match the tone of the play rather than drag the spotlight away. Henry Luxemburg provides a solid performance as Giles, head of the house and whose sarcasm gives some of the loudest roars from the audience and best character interactions. Helen Clapp supports Luxemburg well as wife Mollie Ralston providing a truly investable and believable relationship between the two.
The setting for Monkwell Manor can be summed up as simple but incredibly effective. Clean and timeless the set pieces match the West End production flawlessly. While it contains no gimmicky set changes or elaborate props this suites The Mousetrap perfectly and in short sums up the entire performance, clean and concise with no flash but after sixty years why change? The intricacies of the set are impressive and draw the audience into the manor house while simultaneously reflecting the cold snow outside by use of the clever lighting design supplied by Peter Vaughan Clarke.
Those who haven’t seen the production are often familiar with the works of Agatha Christie and her talent for suspense, something this production can be proud of. While it isn’t the most radical story and at times plays on the safe side it cannot be denied that the tension builds in the plays quieter moments. The first act plays out with a stronger sense of humour while the later half is more story and character based, while longer this change in dynamic makes the second half stronger purely in terms of tension.
While The Mousetrap may be a tad dusty and cliché it thrives in this environment and doesn’t need to change with the times in order to entertain. The appeal of this production has always been in its humour and mystery, a mystery which will hopefully be solved time and time again by new audiences for a further 60 years.
Runs until 1 Nov