Review: The Mousetrap at the Alexandra Theatre

© JOHAN PERSSON

Last night The Bloke and I were invited to the Press Night performance of The Mousetrap at the Alexandra Theatre. 

The scene is set when a group of people gathered in a country guesthouse cut off by the snow discover, to their horror, that there is a murderer in their midst. Who can it be? One by one the suspicious characters reveal their sordid pasts until at the last, nerve-shredding moment the identity and the motive are finally revealed… 

Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is the longest continuously-running play in history and has broken a whole slew of records, having been performed in London since 1952. 

© JOHAN PERSSON

Comprising of just a small cast of eight, each are incredibly talented performers in their own right. Harriet Hare as Mollie Ralston, Nick Biadon as Giles Ralston are the central couple and owners of the new guesthouse, with a wonderful chemistry as a young, newly married couple. 

Lewis Chandler delights as the wonderfully camp Christopher Wren – with superb comic timing he keeps the audience guessing as to his motives behind his interactions with the other characters, while providing plenty of laugh out loud moments, which were beautifully done. 

Joined by the most recognisable member of the cast – Susan Penhaligon as the snooty and opinionated Mrs Boyle, John Griffiths as Major Metcalf, Saskia Vaigncourt-Strallen as the guarded Miss Caswell, David Alcock as the eccentric and rather sinister Mr Paravicini and Geoff Arnold as the central character SGT Trotter, the actors masterfully command the stage in a classic whodunnit that leaves the audience guessing right until the very end. 

As is traditional, the audience were asked at the the end of performance not to reveal the killer to anyone outside of the theatre, as it was a particular dislike of Christie’s that plots of her works were revealed in reviews.

The set is beautiful and an exact copy of the one used at St Martin’s Theatre, but this was – for me at least – the only comparison to the performance that I saw in London several years ago. I actually considerably preferred this version – the pace seemed quicker, the characters a little more comedic and, at times, over-exaggerated. It is certainly worth seeing at least once in a lifetime, and this is the perfect performance to do so. 

The Mousetrap will be at The Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 16th November – to purchase your ticket visit here: https://www.atgtickets.com/times/the-mousetrap/the-alexandra-theatre-birmingham/2019-11-12

Disclaimer: The Bloke and I were given complimentary tickets to the performance, but were under no obligation to provide a positive review. 

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Review: Curtains at the Alexandra Theatre


From the Tony Award-winning creators of ‘Cabaret’ and ‘Chicago’ – John Kander and Fred Ebb – Curtains tells the story of Jessica Cranshaw, the talentless star of the new Broadway-bound musical
Robbin Hood – who has been murdered on stage on opening night, and the entire cast and crew are suspects. Time to call in the local detective – Frank Cioffi – who just happens to be a huge musical theatre fan. With a nose for crime and an ear for music, Frank has his work cut out trying to find the killer whilst giving the show a new lifeline. Continue reading

Hello, November!

Autumn and November I started October feeling particularly fired up and excited for the month ahead. I was on it – there were post ideas, graphics to create, social media posts to put up… I was going to work hard and was determined that I would finish the month better than I had started.

It turns out, October clearly had other plans… Continue reading

How to Live a More Simple Life

I’ve had a busy week / few weeks / month seems to be a staple sentence within a number of my blog posts. It’s isn’t an exaggeration as it’s rare that I get a long period of uninterrupted time to myself, and when I have logged off on a Friday night my brain has often felt more than a little fuzzy. However, being busy doesn’t equate to stress in the way it did when I was teaching – I’m lucky in that a lot of the things that I do and experience during each week vary widely and are usually lots of fun – but over recent months I have been trying to consciously trying to take steps to make life more simple. I have created lots of habits individually which I have blogged about over a period of time, but even just focusing on one of these could make a large amount of difference to your stress levels.
Continue reading

The Challenges of Being an Extroverted Introvert

The Challenges of Being an Extroverted Introvert

I’ve touched on the notion of having an extroverted introvert temperament in previous posts, but I’ve become more aware of the traits associated with this over the last few years.

Stereotypically, introverts prefer calmer environments, find socialising particularly draining and often need time alone to recharge and regain their energy. Introverts are often self aware and learn through the observation of others. Extroverts, on the other hand, often try to seek social stimulation and engagement with others and are characteristically talkative, assertive and excitable. They are excellent communicators within larger groups and enjoy being the centre of attention.

Of course, both are extremes and many people fall somewhere between the two categories. Extroverted introverts, or ambiverts, can generally be found within the middle of the spectrum, but with so many contradictory personality and social traits it’s a rather confusing place to be for both the individual and their friends.
Continue reading

Visiting Guy’s Cliffe House: A Hidden Gem in Warwick

Visiting Guy's Cliffe House in Warwick

The Bloke and I recently had a rare opportunity to explore Guy’s Cliffe House in Warwick. It is rarely available to public viewing, so when we saw that it was open for its Heritage Open Day (and on a stunningly beautiful day) we were really excited about it.

Guy’s Cliffe House is a Grade II listed building that stands on an artificially levelled terrace above a north-facing cliff. At the present most of the house is in ruins and unsuitable to walk through, with only the Grade II listed chapel and service quarters in use.

From humble beginnings as a secluded place of worship in the 5th century, the house has grown and changed with numerous additions in different styles. Sir Guy of Warwick reputably died in ‘Guy’s Cave’ in 970AD,’ and King Henry V ordered the establishment of a chapel in the 15th century. It has been owned by Plantation Owner Samuel Greatheed – Member of Parliament for Coventry – and later by the Heber-Percy family, it was used as a Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital in the First World War and  as a Boys Home by the Waifs and Strays Society during the Second World War… It is currently owned by the Freemasons and preserved by the Friends of Guy’s Cliffe Society. Continue reading

Visiting the Coronation Street Tour

Visiting the Coronation Street Tour

Where do you take a Canadian Coronation Street fan when she visits for a few days?

The Coronation Street Set Tour at Media City in Salford.

Obviously.

It’s probably worth mentioning that I’m not a fan of the show, but Elena Peters is. However, the show has always been a huge part of northern identity, and being from the north has always been something I’m incredibly proud of, and she’s always asking me to send pictures whenever I go to Manchester. Before the set was moved to Media City it was situated at Granada Studios in the centre of Manchester and I remember doing the tour then with my family, so I was interested to see how it now looked in a new location, and I was excited to see Elena’s reaction when she saw the set for the first time.

The Coronation Street Tour is a guided tour of the outdoor working set. Tickets are only available at weekends for a limited time and need to be booked in advance. Continue reading

Theatre, Abstract Art and a Hidden Gem

I often equate a lot of the experiences and opportunities that The Bloke and I have to  being at a bus stop… you wait for ages and then three buses all turn up at the same time.

The latter half of last week was exactly that.

On Wednesday we went to see the fabulous 9 to 5 musical at the Alexandra Theatre. What I didn’t include in my review was that we also went to the after party, during which we had the opportunity to meet the cast. I managed to have a little chat with Louise Redknapp, who was lovely and utterly stunning in person (and she hasn’t aged since the 90’s), and get a quick pic with Amber Davis. It was a weird experience – I knew that the show was coming up so I made The Bloke watch the season of Love Island that she was on so he knew who she was, but she looked completely different in person. I’m awkward at the best of times, but when you’re surrounded by incredibly talented individuals that you’ve just seen perform on stage is a little intimidating!  Continue reading

9 to 5 at the Alexandra Theatre

Yesterday The Bloke and I went to see 9 to 5 the Musical at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham.

Based on the 1980 hit American comedy movie, 9 to 5 tells the story of Doralee, Violet and Judy – three workmates pushed to boiling point by their sexist and egotistical boss. Concocting a plan to kidnap and turn the tables on their despicable supervisor after he blackmails them, will the ladies manage to reform their office – or will events unravel when the CEO pays an unexpected visit? While the film was released nearly forty years ago, many of the issues highlighted are still a prominent part of social commentary, particularly on the topics of equal pay and roles and treatment of women in the workplace.

Louise Redknapp as Violet Photo by Simon Turtle

Louise Redknapp plays Violet, a smart and ambitious senior office administrator and widow who is overlooked for a promotion in favour of a man that she trained. She is absolutely perfect for the role – strong, confident and self-assured with a beautiful voice and a presence onstage that demonstrates why she has had such a long and successful career as a performer.

She is joined by Amber Davis in the role of Judy, who has been forced to find a job for the first time after her husband has left her for his secretary. Made famous by her appearance in Love Island, I was admittedly a little dubious about the casting choice, but she quickly dispelled any doubts with a truly incredible performance – sweet, funny and making her own way in a new world, Davis has an absolutely sensational voice. Continue reading

Step By Step

On the 1st January I decided to work on Step One of the next part of my blogging journey, which would eventually lead to Step Two much later on. Neither Step One nor Step Two are actually needed if I’m honest, but I have seen how much more successful Step Two is once Step One has been established for a while. I was quite excited about it – I created a whole bunch of ideas of how I could build on it to make it beneficial…

…and then proceeded to ignore it.

It has been weighing on me for a while, getting heavier each day, so this morning I woke up to the dark and rain outside, had a little tantrum to myself and decided that if I achieved nothing else today, I would do this ONE THING. Just one. Continue reading