Writer: Agatha Christie
Director: Ian Watt-Smith
Reviewer: Fraser MacDonald
As the longest running show of any kind in British theatre history, The Mousetrap has left audiences guessing for more than 60 years. Back by popular demand, this 60th Anniversary production brings Monkswell Manor to theatres across the UK and delivers a thoroughly fitting dramatization of Christie’s classic play.
When a group of people who find themselves snowed in at a guesthouse discover there is a murderer among them, no one escapes from the suspicion of the other guests. As each guest is discovered to have motive and opportunity for the murder, the mystery of The Mousetrap unravels in a dramatic finale revealing the true identity of the killer – one of the longest running secrets in theatre.
The cast, though small in number, are each equally talented and portray their respective characters well. Helen Clapp gives a solid performance as Mollie Ralston and is well balanced with the eccentricity of Stephen Yeo’s Christopher Wren and Michael Fenner’s Mr Paravicini.
The set is beautifully ornate, with the Grand Hall looking as though it had been cut straight from Monkswell Manor. Walls rise high and no detail has been left unfinished. Theatrical restrictions usually rely on the co-operation of the audience to ‘imagine’ doors lead off to other rooms, this production subtly pokes fun at these restrictions with no more than a double take by a cast member as they walk in one door and out another. Altogether, the set is very tastefully reflective of the period without overly dating the piece.
The play itself is not a fast moving piece; there are no frills, no scene changes and a small cast. However, where the production succeeds is its build up of suspense, as is so common with Christie plays, to a surprise climax. The narrative carries itself more as a staged radio play rather than a piece of outright theatre. Nonetheless, the impact of The Mousetrap lies in its secrecy, a clever twist is the real highlight of the production.
Overall, the revival 60th Anniversary production does a thoroughly good job of staging the classic play. Although it may not set the world alight, the production shows that the genius of Christie’s writing is here and here to stay and long may it continue.
Runs until 20 September