The Mousetrap

October 18, 2016 | By | Reply More

★★★★☆  Blindingly Good Mice

King’s Theatre: Mon 17 – Sat 22 Sept 2016
Review by Martin Gray

Agatha Christie’s legendary murder mystery, The Mousetrap, finds a stately – if temporary – home at the King’s Theatre this week.

The first rule of Mousetrap is you don’t talk about Mousetrap. Well, not the ending, anyway. Since Agatha Christie’s country house murder mystery debuted in 1952 the conceit has been that audiences don’t give away the ending – and pretty much everyone this side of Wikipedia has respected the Queen of Crime’s wishes.

Louise James (Mrs Boyle) and Oliver Gully (Christopher Wren). Photo Liza Maria Dawson.

Louise James (Mrs Boyle) and Oliver Gully (Christopher Wren). Photo Liza Maria Dawson.

So no need to look away, it’s set-up only here, no spoilers.

Newlyweds Mollie and Giles Ralston are opening up the mansion she’s inherited to paying guests. As she awaits their arrival, and snow begins to fall, Mollie hears a radio news report announce a brutal murder in London.

The four individuals booked in are Christopher Wren, a young toff who could politely be called hyperactive, old soldier Major Metcalf, Miss Casewell who’s a tad mannish and possibly a gasp socialist, and a Mrs Boyle, who isa hyper-critical old bat. They’re soon joined by an unexpected guest, Mr Paravicini, who claims his car turned over in a snowdrift and he needs a place to stay.

Five guests, each with more secrets than they have luggage … and soon, one of them is dead, victim of a killer with an attachment to the nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice.

the killer’s identity

But by this time there’s an eighth person at Monkswell Manor – the intense young policeman Sgt Trotter… will he unveil the killer’s identity before anyone else dies?

Tony Boncza (Major Metcalf). Photo: Liza Maria Dawson

Tony Boncza (Major Metcalf). Photo: Liza Maria Dawson

It’s easy to see why The Mousetrap has run continuously in London’s West End since that first performance in 1952 – it’s just huge fun; an intricately plotted puzzle with roles actors can get their teeth into. While the characters are archetypes verging on cliche, don’t blame Christie – she invented the conceits.

This 60th anniversary touring production, itself, has been on the road for the last four years now and is on its third visit to the King’s. And the latest cast of actors are skilled enough to make their living Cluedo pieces believable.

Anna Andreson’s Mollie, for instance, is lightly sketched by Christie, but gradually the actor shows us the depths of this apparently simple woman – at times she’s brittle, at times she’s steel. Andreson can do an awful lot with a simple gesture, using her long, elegant fingers to superb effect.

class-based paranoia

As country cop Trotter, Lewis Collier unleashes a commanding energy that propels the second act along swimmingly, while Oliver Gully keeps the frenetic Christopher just the right side of camp. The rest of the cast – Sarah Whitlock, Amy Downham, Nick Barclay, Tony Boncza and Gregory Cox – are equally watchable cogs in Christie’s entertainment, word and posture perfect, bringing this post-war world of class-based paranoia to compelling life.

The cast members are so good that it’s easy to envision the simple, single set is an entire mansion, with them off in the library, kitchen, bedroom or cellar whenever they vanish through one of the several doors. And they disappear and reappear through doors a lot – in another key The Mousetrap could likely be played as farce.

In the hands of director Ian Watt-Smith, though, the tone is straight – deadly but not deadly earnest. If you’ve never caught The Mousetrap, go and see what all the fuss is about – and if you have, you likely won’t need convincing to see how this production measures up. Just don’t tell anyone the butler did it.

Only kidding. There’s no butler…

…or is there?

Running time 2 hours 20 minutes (including one interval)
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ.
Monday 17 – Saturday 22 October 2016
Daily: 7.30pm; Matinees Wed 19, Sat 22: 2.30pm.
Details and tickets from: http://www.edtheatres.com/mousetrap

Four years on, and the “60th anniversary production” of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is still on the road. Here’s Æ’s review from when the show really was  60 years old: alledinburghtheatre.com/review-the-mousetrap/
And when it was last here, in 2014: http://www.alledinburghtheatre.com/the-mousetrap-review/.

Click below to buy the script (or scripts) from Amazon:

The Mousetrap on tour 2016:
17 – 22 Oct Edinburgh
King’s Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
24 – 29 Oct Guildford
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
01483 44 00 00 Book online
31 Oct – 5 Nov Birmingham
New Alexandra Theatre
0844 871 3011 Book online
7 Nov – 12 Nov Tunbridge Wells
Assembly Hall
01892 530613 Book online
14 – 19 Nov Isle of White
Shanklin Theatre
01983 868000 Book online
28 – 30 Nov Oxford
New Theatre
0844 871 3020 Book online
1 – 3 Dec Carlisle
The Sands Centre
01228 633766 Book online
5 – 10 Dec Aberystwyth
Arts Centre
01970 62 32 32 Book online

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