Dame Agatha Christie is Queen of the ‘Murder Mystery’ genre, having created well- known detective characters such as Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot in a series of short stories. Her famous stage-show, The Mousetrap, celebrates its 60th year anniversary with its first ever tour and continuing popularity as the longest running stage show in British history, proving the mystery lives on.
The Mousetrap was originally written as a radio play for the BBC and was dedicated to Queen Mary, mother of King George VI, for her 80th birthday. Then it was called Three Blind Mice. Five years later, Christie transformed it into the hugely popular stage show we all know of today.
The play opens with a loud scream and the audience are suddenly plunged into darkness – there’s been a murder! The murder mystery is held in desolate Monkswell Manor and the murderer is on the loose. The suspect is wearing a dark overcoat, light scarf, and soft felt hat – luck has it, so does everyone else who checks into the upper-class guesthouse. The 8 characters are then trapped in the Manor by a snow storm. Who knows who the next victim might be…?
The Mousetrap first opened in 1952. At the time, the play’s content may have been shocking, full of suspension and drama, however, to a modern day audience it falls a little flat. The play is 60 years in the making and this is sadly notable as some of the lines are tepidly clichéd and done to death. An audience of the 21st Century craves for a little more excitement, a little more suspense, and a little more thrill, something that this production failed to provide for us. This felt a little out-of-date with no drastic changes being made to the drawing room drama.
Performances are good throughout, however, a standout has to come from Stephen Yeo who plays No.1 suspect Christopher Wren. He keeps the play afloat through terrific comedic timing and great characterisation of his wildly wacky and “odd” character. Having directed various productions of The Mousetrap Ian Watt-Smith does so again, however, plays it rather safe by keeping the performance to its usual traditions and almost making a replica of the original staging. With the script full of ideas to play with, it seems like a lost opportunity to showcase Christie’s ideas and make it a little more relevant for a modern audience.
The Mousetrap is a classic in British theatre but unfortunately this production seems to fail to grasp the secrecy and brilliance of Christie's work. It is typically entertaining with solid performances and comedic elements. The popular mystery lives on, don’t worry, I won’t reveal whodunit… your secret's safe with me!
Runs til 1st November