Writer: Agatha Christie
Director: Ian Watt-Smith
Reviewer: Natasha Hegarty
In it’s 63rd year and the longest running play in history, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is a sort of British tradition.
When a group of strangers meet for the first time on the opening night at Monkswell Manor, a new hotel run by Molly and Giles Ralston, none of whom expect it to become the scene of a murder investigation. Snowed in with the phone lines cut is the perfect scenario for a whodunnit.
The eccentric Christopher Wren, the permanently unimpressed Mrs Boyle, the calming Mr Metcalfe, the curiously secretive Miss Casewell and the foreign stranger Mr Paravicini are all booked in for the night. Then Sgt Trotter arrives to question them all about a recent murder and all of a sudden, even your favourite character looks guilty.
Esther McAuley and Alex Wadham have wonderful chemistry as the new hotel owners. Their sweet, loving relationship which is soon marred by suspicion of each other is fascinating and believable to watch.
You will either love or loath Edward Elgood’s Christopher Wren, but his loud demeanour, constantly diving and bouncing around gives needed colour, as the rest of the characters are fairly still throughout. His camaraderie with Molly is both touching and unexpected and both work very well together.
Anne Kavanagh’s performance as the brash, judging Mrs Boyle is wonderfully executed and has the audience chuckling and rolling their eyes at her throughout. The scenes with the full cast all together are very entertaining and the funniest too and it’s in these scenes you will play detective the most. Luke Jenkins plays the Mr Trotter very impressively. You will sympathise with his constant irritation that these people are not taking the murder investigation seriously and hiding things from him, because you will want to know too! Similarly Hester Arden’s Miss Casewell, and Jonathan Sidgwick’s Mr Paravivini, again are impressive.
The Mousetrap’s set design is traditional to the time and which creates the richness of the guest house well. The large stained glass window used to show the worsening weather is impressive. It also plays the location of the entertaining entrance of the sergeantwho arrives at the house via skis.
Ian Watt-Smith’s direction combines a fairly successful balance of comedy and dramatic suspense, but there are more laughs to be had and this could be teased out further. All the characters are suspects and because of this, there are no subtle performances. The script lends itself to somewhat overacting at times, but definitely has the audience on the edge of their seats waiting for the next clue.
You will play detective throughout the entire performance – there is a reason it is the longest running play in history and of course, when asked to keep the culprit a secret at the end, please do so. It’s a tradition that no one spills the details.
Oh, and keep in mind, a famous children’s nursery rhyme will haunt your nightmares for ever after curtain down. You’ve been warned.
Runs until 12 September | PhotoLiza Maria Dawson