As news spreads of a murder in London, a group of seven strangers find themselves snowed in at a remote countryside guesthouse. When a police sergeant arrives, the guests discover – to their horror – that a killer is in their midst! Which one is the murderer? Who will be their next victim? Can you solve this world-famous mystery for yourself?
Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap at the Alexandra Theatre plays for six nights as part of its 70th anniversary tour and was a fantastic way to spend Tuesday night this week, and a full house no less. Lucky for us, The Mousetrap has continued to delight audiences for much longer than the initial fourteen months that Christie herself said she would “give it,” in the fifties when it debuted.
The quintessential “whodunnit” unfolds as we firstly meet Giles (Laurence Pears) and Mollie Ralston (Joelle Dyson), the recently married couple and hosts to the guests that come and stay at Monkswell Manor, owned by Mollie, who with her husband are at the start of a new venture running a guest house. The play opens with news on the radio, delivered in the traditional received pronunciation of the early twentieth century BBC broadcaster, of a murder of a Ms Lyon in London currently under investigation. Shortly afterwards, the Ralston’s guests begin to arrive: first the young and flamboyant Christopher Wren (Eliot Clay), whose comedic energy was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience, then followed by the cranky and unimpressed Mrs Boyle (Gwyneth Strong) who clearly thinks the Ralstons are inept given their lack of experience in hospitality. Mrs Boyle shares a taxi to Monkswell Manor with Major Metcalf, the immediately recognisable Todd Carty (Grange Hill, Eastenders). Major Metcalf is the archetypal British military man through and through. Quite the opposite is Miss Casewell, a progressive young woman, also probably considered quite radical given she mainly lives abroad. The fifth and unexpected guest was another familiar face, John Altman (Eastenders) plays the character of Mr Paravicini, who maintains his car has broken down and by sheer luck, happens upon the guest house for shelter. The gregarious Italian businessman with a questionable accent at times and make up to potentially disguise his age is most bemusing to the other characters and naturally raises suspicion amongst the guests as events unfold.
After Mrs Ralston receives a call from the police expressing their concern that the murderer is at large and potentially in the area, the jumpy and nervous Detective Sargent Trotter (Joseph Reed) turns up and begins his work of trying to uncover the mystery of the murder. The characters reflect on their past and allude to their reasons for having come to this place, poignant moments of life shaping events that we experience as humans beings and carry with us on our individual journeys – a surprising and fleeting philosophical exploration and brilliantly presented, without losing the pace and progress of the plot.
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 play’s charm and simplicity clearly are a winning combination as a wonderfully cohesive cast bringing their talents to this classic. Thoroughly enjoyable and a must for any self-respecting theatre-lover!
The Mousetrap will be on stage at The Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 5th November 2022. Purchase your tickets here!
Review by Marika Lawrence
The Mousetrap 70th Anniversary Tour cast Photo by Matt Crockett
Glad you enjoyed it. I first saw this a very long time ago in London – NOT seventy years ago – in the seventies. A few years ago it came to our local theatre and I still enjoyed it. There is nothing like a classic play in a real theatre.