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Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap – 70th Anniversary Tour
January 30th - February 4th
DON’T JUST SEE IT. SOLVE IT.
AGATHA CHRISTIE’S THE MOUSETRAP is the world’s longest-running play. This thrilling West End production is THE genre-defining murder mystery from the best-selling novelist of all time… case closed!
As news spreads of a murder in London, a group of seven strangers find themselves snowed in at a stately countryside guesthouse. When a police sergeant arrives, the guests discover – to their horror – that a killer is in their midst! One by one, the suspicious characters reveal their sordid pasts. Which one is the murderer? Who will be their next victim? Can you solve the mystery before another “mouse” goes SNAP?
For almost 70 years, AGATHA CHRISTIE’S THE MOUSETRAP has kept millions of people from every corner of the globe on the edge of their seats. COULD YOU BE NEXT?
Running time: Approx. 2 hours 20 minutes
Pete Phillips - View from the Stalls
Great fun right up to the reveal of the culprit!
Rather like any Great British institution, Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap finds itself embedded in the psyche of the nation, as witnessed by the fact that it is now on its 70th Anniversary tour (and retaining its title of the longest running show in history). First staged at the Ambassadors Theatre in London, it opened with Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim but, curiously, Agatha Christie had no high hopes for the play. She reckoned on giving it a life of just eight months, so this is a pretty amazing achievement and Christie was as baffled as anyone at the show's enduring appeal.
As well as continuing its residency in London, the play is on a long-running tour around the UK - see www.mousetrapontour.co.uk for details. For this celebratory tour, we have Gwyneth Strong, Todd Carty, Kieran Brown, Joelle Dyson, Laurence Pears, Elliot Clay, Essie Barrow and Joseph Reed. And one of these doesn't even make it to the second half...
The red herrings come thick and fast whilst conceits, secrets and accusations abound as the visitors to and owners of a new snow-bound guest house just outside London try to come to terms with the fact that, to the tune of Three Blind Mice, two of them may be dead by the end and the killer, who has already struck once, is apparently already in their midst.
All the action takes place on a single set with various other rooms mentioned as locations where the characters happened to be when the murder(s) took place so no-one is in the clear and everyone is potentially the killer or the victim.
This is a good robust performance of the play, with a lot more laughs than you might expect in a murder mystery. Elliot Clay is hilarious as the "crazy" and somewhat unstable character Christopher Wren as is the unexpected guest Mr Paravicini, superbly played by Kieran Brown (last year, John Altman took this part but Brown is a far more convincing and funny Italian). An unusual sight was seeing Todd Carty impressively portraying a gruff Army Major and Joseph Reed was excellent as the Detective Sergeant Trotter, whose job it was to identify the killer… The audience is kept guessing until the end (unless you have seen it before, of course!) when the theme of Three Blind Mice comes to its natural conclusion with the killer revealed as...
So who did do it and why? Well, in the long-held tradition of the play, the audience is sworn to secrecy by the detective before the final curtain falls so there is only one way to find out...
Spare a thought for actress Nancy Seabrooke. On retiring from the show in 1994, she had been understudy for 6,240 performances but was called upon to take the role of Mrs Boyle just 72 times - an average of 5 per year over the 15 years she was involved in the show. Now that is dedication to the cause!
Showtime! John Philpott
Watching the crowds filing through the doors of the Festival Theatre, I imagined every one of those Agatha Christie addicts carrying a duvet.
In my mind’s eye, I could see all manner of colours, designs and patterns. There were entwined roses in abundance, hedgehogs and bunnies sporting waistcoats and spotted bow ties, and at the other end of the social scale, we had the Shakespeare print jobs.
You know the one. Big dome head, patchy beard, and a quill poised to knock off the next impenetrable masterpiece.
So – why all this talk about duvets? Well, that’s easily answered, because our much-celebrated crime writer not only created a whole host of classic whodunnits, but also quite a few whodiddits – that’s my own term by the way, it might yet catch on – in which murder can almost be a pleasant experience for all concerned, including possibly the victim.
There’s no blood whatsoever, a complete absence of anguish or suffering on the part of the recipient, and no display of passion or impetuosity by the perpetrator. All that generally happens is that the lights fail, the stage is drenched in darkness, the phone gets cut off and - apart from a stifled groan or scream - that’s it. Job done. Next!
All that now remains is for us to keep paying attention and try to figure out who’s the villain which, of course, we all routinely fail to do.
In other words, this is cosy murder, unlike anything that happens in today’s usual squalid reality. Therefore, it’s the kind of life termination that we can all enjoy without any guilt at all, wrapped in our aforesaid duvets, with just our heads showing.
Of course, the management at Malvern Theatres probably wouldn’t take all that kindly to audiences arriving en masse with piles of bedding, so it’s a good job this image remains locked in my own febrile imagination.
Incredibly – and almost unbelievably – this wonderful production of what is arguably Christie’s greatest work is presently on its 70th anniversary tour and probably fielding the greatest cast so far.
Joelle Dyson as landlady Mollie Ralston commands the stage right from the start, while Elliot Clay’s take on the Christopher Wren role is an absolute hoot. This guy’s as mad as a biscuit and must have severely tested the stays on many a Malvern corset during the opening night’s performance.
As for Gwyneth Strong (Mrs Boyle) well… you could chop firewood with that face, or maybe even shave. Meanwhile, Detective Sergeant Trotter (Joseph Reed) must sort out why this snowbound guest house has become the epicentre of a truly tangled murder investigation.
But let’s face it, after 70 years and thousands of performances, and unless your name’s Rip Van Winkle, there can hardly be anyone on the planet who is not aware of the twists and turns of the plot.
Nevertheless, as we are always reminded, one must still remember not to reveal the identity of the culprit to anyone, probably on pain of a murder far more graphic than that which we’ve just seen onstage…
And so they left, wrapped in those fantasy duvets of dastardly death, wending their way homewards, an audience well pleased with having viewed the kind of murder that will never, ever trigger nightmares.
A brilliant show with fantastic actors. Much funnier than I expected. Sat near the front to the right but could see fine. The play flew by.
We had dinner in the bistro before the play which was relaxed with great service and delicious food.