Theatre review: Mousetrap brings whodunnit to city

The Mousetrap

The Mousetrap - Credit: Archant

Agatha Christie’s play The Mousetrap is world-famous for being the longest-running show in British theatre. To celebrate 60 years, the play is touring the UK and has just finished a week-long run in the Alban Arena.

Set in a country house in the 40s, newlyweds Mollie and Giles Ralston welcome their first guests to the house Mollie inherited from her aunt. The snow is falling heavily and as each guest arrives it becomes clear that they are trapped there together until it thaws. The radio news tells of a murder in London, building the claustrophobic atmosphere.

Continuing the link from the London production to the tour, the voice of the radio newsreader is original cast member Deryck Guyler, and it takes the audience straight back to the era of the original play.

The stage set is the best I have seen in our local theatres, with snow falling outside the stained glass windows and the lighting reflecting the gloomy atmosphere.

Christie based her play on a true story of a child who died while in foster care with a farmer and his wife. Although there are moments of humour from John Gould’s Christopher Wren and Jonathan Sidgwick’s Mr Paravicini, it is a dark story, with potential motives flying around.

The whole cast is West End quality, with polished, calm perfomances from each of the eight-strong cast, grounded by Esther McAuley’s Mollie Ralston.

When the murder took place on the blacked out stage, there was an audible intake of breath in the theatre; the play still has the power to grip the audience, even after so many years of film and television thrillers.

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During the interval, like everyone else in the theatre, the family and I said who we thought had ‘dunnit’, and we each had a different theory.

The second half whizzes through, with eerie piano playing of Three Blind Mice, the phone line going down, and more revelations. It is a very entertaining play and when the big reveal came, we were, of course, all wrong.

After the applause has died down a cast member, as after every performance of The Mousetrap, steps forward to remind the audience to keep the identity of the murderer a secret.