Writer: Agatha Christie
Director: Gareth Armstrong
Reviewer: Lu Greer
The Mousetrap is, of course, known as being famously the longest running show on London’s West End. Indeed, it has run for the entirety of Queen Elizabeth’s reign beginning in 1952 as she took the throne. Coming from the mind of Agatha Christie it is recognised as the quintessential period whodunit, but running for such a very long time the question must be asked; is it still appealing for an audience today?
Set in a remote manor house cut off from the world by a snowstorm as Mollie and Giles Ralston (Harriett Hare and Nick Biadon) open their guest house for the very first time, the play is full of the tropes of the cosy crime fiction story. The sets reflect this with the velvet drapes hanging in the background, and the warming fireplace fills one side of the stage in this one set play reminding the audience of this traditional style of mystery. The characters too are postcard versions of well-known stereotypes including the flamboyant young man, the nit-picking barrister, and the pompous major. Of this cast, Harriett Hare is a particular standout as Mollie Ralston as she brings to life the nervous woman determined to make her guest house a success and brings the audience along with her as she becomes ever more frustrated by the unfolding events. Geoff Arnold playing opposite her as Sgt Trotter is also admirable as he balances the nuance of his character and gives some of the best comedic lines of the play.
The tone of the play itself is what makes it the most interesting, in sticking to its traditional routes so admirably. The first half of the play is decidedly light, with well-to-do characters sniping each other and failing to grasp the severity of their situation which is then juxtaposed in the second half as an ominous tone settles over proceedings with the audience piecing together the puzzle.
There are moments when this play shows its age with some slightly uncomfortable lines, albeit in keeping with the period, and in particular the final scene is rather cloying to a modern audience who are typically more interested in learning more about the whodunit and less about wrapping things up with a bow. Overall though this show still holds its own having outlasted many crime dramas that have come after it, and will almost certainly outlast many more to come because it has embraced what it is; a cosy thriller that will keep the audience revelling in their guessing to the last.
Runs until 13 July 2019 | Image: Contributed