We may never know what makes a play or musical destined for longevity. Les Miserables was panned by the critics and Agatha Christie herself only expected The Mousetrap to run for several months. But almost 70 years later, the production continues to appeal to global audiences. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised; after all, our television guide is full of popular crime dramas, from Endeavour and Silent Witness to Doc Marten, Vera and of course Poirot and Marple.
So is it the macabre nature of murder? The thrill of the guess? Or something else? Whatever it is, something makes The Mousetrap the longest running play in the West End. And the tour is no less popular, with a full house of people – many of whom have never seen the production. Each has a theory as to Whodunit and their motive…
Although the show is delayed for 45 minutes due to technical difficulties – leading me to wonder if we were actually about to witness The Play That Goes Wrong – it doesn’t stop the production from gripping the audience. The actors are a little thrown by the late start, but they soon find their feet and share the story. While the tale itself remains compelling, the acting borders on the am-dram side, with shocking over pronunciation of vowels and poor attempts at the accents of the period.
That said, there are a few stand out performances, in particular from Saskia Vaigncourt-Strallen (Miss Casewell) and Geoff Arnold (Sergeant Trotter), while the majority of characters (including Christopher Wren and Molly Ralston and Major Metcalf) are very compelling. Christie’s talent is each character’s back story that casts suspicion everywhere, while the actors can create their own mannerisms to enhance the audience’s puzzlement.
The set (constructed by Rocket Scenery) is fantastic, with exceptional attention to detail in every element. In fact it’s beautiful. Eerie music adds to the tension and brings the dramatisation to life.
Unfortunately, after the build-up of tension, suspicion and accusation, the ending feels rushed and is quite abrupt. It also isn’t quite as good as the West End production. But in spite of this, it’s still a gripping production that will no doubt continue to perplex and delight audiences for many years to come.
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes
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