The Mousetrap is a bit like a reality TV star on a global scale. It’s famous for being famous. Half way through the first act I was scratching my head. How is this the longest running play ever? It feels like it was written in 1952 and is comparable to many middle of the road oh so English murder mysteries which you find in the Samuel French play catalogue, staged regularly by community theatre. Why is this old fashioned play still going in the West End sixty years later?
It appears that recognition and celebrity brings comfort. My last Mousetrap experience was in 1986, when, as a backpacker, I squeezed into the St Martin’s Theatre in the West End to watch the play for one of the quintessential British tourist experiences. Someone else in the audience told me they saw in 1963.
I could remember clearly ‘who dunit’. This took the edge off my experience. A bit like knowing who would win the final State of Origin match before the kick-off...(which was on that night and had a result that also followed the script). An Agatha Christie fan – but Mousetrap virgin - next to me had a much better time. The super sleuth theatre manager texted his wife his prime suspect at interval and was chuffed to be spot on.
It must be said that most in the audience knew what style of entertainment to expect. According to the program note Agatha Christie has sold two billion books worldwide. And this was a very nicely crafted production.
Nothing appeared to be spared on the set. Designed by Linda Bewick, it looked like the guest house had been carved out of a fine old oak tree.
Inside, an unlikely series of coincidences link guests to the murder of a woman in London.
The young couple running the guest house, Mollie and Giles Ralston, played by Gus Murray and Christy Sullivan looked just as stylish - as though they had stepped out of a 1950’s women’s magazine.
A number of oddball characters come in as guests. The most charismatic were Robert Alexander, as the continental Mr Paravicini, and Travis Cotton, who was delightful as the hyperactive and peculiar guest Christopher Wren.
Into the mix comes Justin Smith as the smooth Detective-Sergeant Trotter, who arrives on skis to the snow logged house just as the phone line is cut.
The finger of suspicion is pointed around the guest house until the inevitable twist in the last scene.
The audience is instructed not to reveal who the killer is. Alas in 1952 there was nothing called Wikipedia or the internet so those attending need to avert their eyes to get the most out of an entertaining evening.