Writer: Agatha Christie
Director: Ian Watt-Smith
Reviewer: Malcolm Wallace
The Mousetrap is a play that needs little introduction. Agatha Christie’s most famous whodunit continues to run in London’s West end 62 year after its premiere and can now be found travelling through every nook and cranny of the UK as part of its 60th anniversary celebratory tour. Billing as the first ever UK tour is technically inaccurate as the play toured to Nottingham, Oxford, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds and Birmingham in 1952 ahead of its London opening. However, this tour which started in 2012 is vastly more extensive and lengthy meaning there is no excuse to miss it.
In essence it’s a typical murder mystery. Five apparent strangers meet in a country manor guest house owned by married couple Giles and Molly Ralston (Henry Luxemburg and Joanna Croll). Despite being snowed in and cut off a Detective Sergeant Trotter (Jonathan Woolf) arrives investigating the murder of a woman in London. True to the genre, the detective exposes truths and lies among the gathering and despite many red herrings along the way the crime is eventually solved but not before a second murder and an unusual twist in the tale that the audience are asked not to reveal come curtain call.
Replicating the west end production Director Ian Watt-Smith keeps the pace and momentum at a high throughout the evening and uses the performing space to its fullest extent. The set, for which no designer is listed, is very detailed and effective with its wood panelling and stained glass windows and is warmly lit by Peter Vaughan Clarke.
Although none of the characters require any significant depth of acting, there are no weak members of the eight strong cast and all appeared to work very hard to flesh out their shallow characters particularly Ryan Saunders as lost soul Christopher Wren and Anne Kavanagh who plays cantankerous moaner Mrs Boyle with flair.
It could be argued that The Mousetrap is unworthy of the attention it receives as it’s really rather predictable and ordinary owing much of its continued success to its status as a tourist attraction in London. However it is also a piece of history and judging by the sheer length of the tour and the busy Monday night performance in Salford there is genuine interest and affection for this very British theatrical experience.
Runs until Saturday 22nd March