Writer: Agatha Christie
Director: Ian Watt-Smith
Reviewer: Jo Payne
Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is simply the biggest, longest running; most performed play and has amassed the greatest total audience over the years. It is also the best-kept secret in show-business so it is possible, as a newcomer, to walk into the performance not knowing what to expect except that, at some point in the evening, there will come the question of ‘whodunit’.
The plot, which revolves around a couple who own a bed and breakfast and their guests on a snowy winter’s day, provides a satisfying amount of red-herrings before exquisitely winding towards the big reveal; as one would expect from Agatha Christie. Originally, the story was loosely based on true events so, despite some enhancing of characters and many artistic alterations, many of the characters who appear on stage are quite believable.
Once the scene is set, the characters introduced and the murder committed, Sergeant Trotter (Jonathan Woolf) begins to interrogate his suspects, gently revealing clue after clue to the accusatory audience. Murmurs and gasps fly around the stalls as each resident of Monkswell Manor reveals more of their identity than they originally intended. This excitement stretches over the interval as suggestions and justifications for all conclusions are rife.
While only one of the rooms of grandeur is visible on stage, the rest of the large, country house is referenced, making it surprisingly easy to follow the vital movements of the suspects at the time of the murder. The main room gives a clear impression of the style of the rest of the house meaning that, from the outset, one can deduce the era and place in which the characters are appearing. Lighting and sound effects are used to subtly create the crisp winter weather and indoor ambience, giving the performance space added authenticity.
With artistic elements put to one side, the key to the success of The Mousetrap is the intriguing characters that, in this production, are all played skilfully and memorably. From the outrageously snobbish Mrs Boyle (Anne Kavanagh) to the charming, youthful Christopher Wren (Ryan Saunders), each of the individuals are expertly crafted to be immaculately different but seamlessly intertwined both in their past and present. They are easy to love and loathe yet, at the same time, there is an aura of mystery surrounding each one, thus adding to the audience’s guesswork.
For amateur super-sleuths, The Mousetrap will remain the perfect show to test out those speculation skills and be entertained simultaneously. After seeing the play, the next step is to go back, re-watch it and spot all the many clues which were missed the first time while, of course, not sharing the legendary secret of ‘whodunit’ with anyone else…ever.
Tour Photo ¦ Runs at The Connaught Theatre until 19th July 2014