The Mousetrap | Review
Agatha Christie‘s The Mousetrap is the classic whodunit murder mystery. For the audience member, the trick is to trust no one, not even the handsome young lad, defenceless shaky granny or beautiful babbling wife. Suspicion flies across the stage and into darkness whilst a body lies upon the wooden floor.
Theatre Royal Brighton is always able to house fantastic sets. Monkswell Manor was a pretty impressive set with its many spiral staircases and long corridors. With the slamming of doors, a toasty fireplace and grandmother’s mismatched armchairs, The Mousetrap increased my expectations of a jolly good show.
The husband and wife duo were the showmakers, oiling the clogs of this 1952 play. Giles Ralston (Nick Barclay) and Mollie Ralston (Anna Andresen) had plenty of lovers’ flirts and tiffs within the space of two hours. Their nervous and determined orbits around Monkswell Manor captured this raging sense of “somebody’s going to get murdered” as they welcome their first paying guests.
The guests came in all shapes, sizes and ages. Mrs Boyle (Louise Jameson) is the woman who lives in her cardigan, complains about everything and picks on the vulnerable youngsters. Major Metcalf (Tony Boncza) is the man with authority, the stiff upper lip kind and knocks some sense into characters simply by standing straight with his hands behind his back. Miss Casewell (Amy Downham) was a go girl fighter, unashamed of her mixed masculine and feminine traits. Her emotions did indeed crack, but I felt she had the most backstory to deliver. Sergeant Trotter (Lewis Collier) brought some fresh uptown funk into the suspect gang. He seemed to be plucked from 2016 and time travelled to investigate this living Cluedo game. Mr Paravicini (Gregory Cox) simply reminded me of Count Dracula, but with a dodgy accent which annoyingly slipped at times. Enjoying his dark sense of humour, he was constantly framing and questioning himself. Finally, Christopher Wren (Oliver Gully)…what a delightful ball of energy and his stage presence was wonderfully infectious.
The Mousetrap is a stubborn old ox though. I applaud its long running success, but it refuses to budge on its cheesy clichés, stereotypical slurs and pastime humour. The theme of young versus old seemed to ground the storyline, predicting the fate for one particular character. Looking around the audience, the young versus old was a pretty accurate representation of my fellow audience members, but a positive one!
Sensing Agatha Christie is looking over my shoulder, I will not reveal who the murderer was. Now where would be the fun in that? The Mousetrap was a spiffing show for a post-winter treat. Throughout the play, the mystery was slowly notched up and cranked the suspicion, guilt and revenge around Monkswell Manor. The murderer’s big reveal released my tiny gasp, but let’s just say I’m hopeless at Cluedo.
Reviewer : Emma Robertson
Photo Credit : Liza Maria Dawson
The Mousetrap is playing at the Theatre Royal Brighton until Saturday 30th January 2016. Further details here