Writer: Agatha Christie
Director: Ian Watt Smith
Reviewer: Jennie Philpot
Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is known the world over. From a play studied in many a school classroom to becoming the world’s longest running stage production; since 1952 this classic ‘whodunit’ has perplexed many a would-be detective!
When Mollie Ralston (played wonderfully by Helen Clapp) and her husband decide to set up a guest house in the beautiful house of Monkswell Manor, they do not expect it to be the site of a murder investigation. The already nervous Mollie tries hard to keep order as everything around her seems to be breaking down. As doubt creeps in and uncertainty prevails, all the residents rely on Detective Sergeant Trotter to reveal all. This archetypal murder mystery keeps you guessing right to the end, a secret that has been kept by audiences for 60 years!
This performance stays true to the original period thriller that Christie first wrote all those years ago; with period dress, set and props. There is a fixed set which makes it difficult for the play to stray far from the classic retelling. Having said this, for a travelling show, the set was finely designed to resemble the inside of an old but grandiose guesthouse, with hidden stairways and wooden panelling. It is a shame there is recorded music rather than a live orchestra, something which may give the performance a little more life. The sounds of winter when the windows are opened, is a small but authentic touch.
At times this piece is rather over acted with the characters fulfilling their scripted rôles but one cannot help but imagine how difficult it must be to convey on stage, the subtle nuances that are needed to give away small but necessary clues. It was Christie’s wish that this thriller never be made into a film and so the actors have a hard job without the use of close ups! Sergeant Trotter (Luke Jenkins) gives a sterling performance throughout, interrogating his suspects, helping tease out clue after clue…
This is a gripping performance which holds the audience’s attention right to the last breath. The second half is more entertaining with more empathy having been built up for the characters and a sense of knowing it is all about to be made clear. There are a few chuckles to be had throughout the performance, largely due to the subtle way Mr Ralston portrays an overprotective jealous husband, but these could be developed to a greater degree.
What an excellent chance to see this world famous show off the West End but if you are looking for a new interpretation, this performance may not be for you. A firm family favourite, one to take the grandparents to, as long as they are prepared to do a little investigative work!
Picture: Helen Maybanks | Runs until:27th September 2014