In anticipation of seeing ‘And Then There Were None’ at the Hawth in Crawley this week it occurred to me that I do not recall ever seeing an Agatha Christie play on stage so I trotted off to the St. Martin’s Theatre in London to see her most famous play The Mousetrap which is the longest running play in the world, I wanted to see what made it so special.
The Mousetrap | Review
The scene is set in a country manor on it’s first night as a guest house. Proprietors Mollie and Giles Ralston busily prepare for their guests. As they optimistically get things ready they listen to radio reports of a murder in London. It is snowing hard as the guests arrived and it is not long before they are completely snowed in.
The guests are very entertaining, not least because of their diversity and you wonder what they are all doing at this remote guesthouse. There is querulous Mrs Boyle who delightfully complains about everything, a retired army Major, a totally annoying young man Christopher Wren, the elusive Miss Casewell and a make up wearing, piano playing Mr Paravicini.
Detective Sergeant Trotter arrives and informs them he suspects that the murderer next victim is amongst them, not only that but the murderer is one of them too and therefore they are all suspects.
In the best whodunnit fashion all of the characters have something to hide so the audience is kept guessing until right at the end of the play. Traditionally the audience are urged at the end of the play not to reveal the murderers identity to keep the suspense going for future audiences, so I am sorry but my lips are sealed 😀
The play was of course seemed dated but delightfully traditional and although it wasn’t showstoppingly good, it is lovely to have something so long established in the West End. The story goes that the rights to The Mousetrap belong to Christie’s grandson and under the contract terms no film adaptation can be made until the play has closed in the West End. This seems to be a great reason to keep The Mousetrap running for as long as possible.
If The Mousetrap drew crowds in for these reasons, it would be grand. The real crime here however is that St. Martin’s Theatre was empty! I bought tickets half an hour before the matinée performance and there were only a handful of people in the entire theatre. There are no discounts, no upgrade and no real push to encourage people to come. The reason I haven’t mentioned any outstanding cast members in this review is that I couldn’t easily find a current list on the Internet. A crying shame.
I do recommend the Mousetrap, it was an intriguing play, how the experience certainly wasn’t all I’d hoped for. It must be soul destroying for the actors and a financial nightmare. Sixty Three years is pretty good going, either fill the theatre or let the production bow out gracefully.
Reviewer : Sammi O’Neill.