The Mousetrap

October 28, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More

★★★☆☆   Sturdy nostalgia

King’s Theatre: Tues 27 Oct – Sat 1 Nov 2014

There may be nothing new in the latest touring version of the institution that is Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, but the production gives its large audiences exactly what they are looking for.

Helen Clapp and Stephen Yeo. Photo: Helen Maybanks

Helen Clapp and Stephen Yeo. Photo: Helen Maybanks

A collection of characters – not all expected – arrive at a country guest house in a snowstorm. And, while it would be wrong to give much away, there will probably be a murder…

The ‘don’t tell your friends’ tradition that has grown up around the play aside, the whodunnit element is (whisper it) not really that interesting. The characters are thin, and as the parade of coincidences and contrivances lengthens it becomes wearing, particularly in an overlong second act. There are hints of some darker themes, but these are soon pushed to the background, with a comforting, nostalgic feel predominating.

The result is more of a drawing room comedy than a murder mystery, with the atmosphere of an arch, ever-so-slightly-camp period piece. The comforting feel of a past that never really happened, where terrible deeds can be done but nothing really changes, no doubt adds to the play’s continuing appeal. However, it can also remove much of the edge or interest.

What rescues the evening is the complete commitment of all concerned. The set is an extraordinarily solid and convincing affair; the fact that no designer is credited adds to the feeling that it has simply been dropped in from an authentic country house.

keeping the story rattling along

Peter Vaughan Clarke’s warm, subtle lighting provides an atmospheric tinge. Director Ian Watt-Smith emphasises the humour but not at the expense of keeping the story rattling along.

2014 Cast of 60th Anniversary Tour of Agatha Christies The Mousetrap. Photo: Helen Maybanks

2014 cast of the continuing 60th anniversary tour of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.
Photo: Helen Maybanks

There is a fine line to tread for the cast in retaining the audience’s sympathy while still suggesting they may be keeping secrets. Helen Clapp and Henry Luxemburg as the Ralstons, the couple who run the guest house, manage this excellently. Stephen Yeo, as confused young man Christopher Wren, and Michael Fenner, who plays the mysterious Mr Paravicini, attack their roles with enough energy to avoid caricature.

Christopher Gilling’s Major Metcalf is suitably bluff and stuffy, while Anne Kavanagh gives the horrendous Mrs Boyle enough brittle vulnerability to make her interesting, and Charlotte Latham is an intriguing Miss Casewell.

Luke Jenkins (Sgt Trotter) is perhaps the least successful performer, being oddly underpowered, but overall the energy levels more than compensate for any creaks in the plot.

In the end it seems pointless to speculate just why this play has run for so long, and why so many people (many of whom must surely know exactly what is going to happen) pack theatres on tour. What can be commended is the engagement and accomplishment of everyone concerned. They could easily just turn up and go through the motions and the crowds would still flock in, but the belief and drive on stage are palpable and should be praised.

Running time 2 hours 50 mins including interval
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ
Monday 27 October – Saturday 1 November 2014
Evenings 7:30pm; Matinees Wed and Sat 2:30pm
Tickets from http://www.edtheatres.com/mousetrap2014

Two 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/

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

Tour Dates 2014
The Mousetrap on tour 2014:
27 Oct – 1 Nov 2014 Edinburgh
Kings Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
3 – 5 Nov 2014 Carlisle
Sands Centre
01228 633766 Book online
6 – 8 Nov 2014 Blackpool
Grand Theatre
01253 290 190 Book online
10 – 15 Nov 2014 Dublin
Bord Gáis Theatre
0818 719 377 Book online
17 – 22 Nov 2014 Ipswich
Regent Theatre
01473 433100 Book online
24 – 29 Nov 2014 Croydon
Ashcroft Theatre
020 8688 9291 Book online
1 – 6 Dec 2014 Southend
Palace Theatre
01702 351135 Book online

ENDS

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  1. The Mousetrap : All Edinburgh Theatre.com | November 1, 2018

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