Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap opened to a packed auditorium at the Grand Theatre on Thursday. The play, which has been staged in London since 1952, is widely known for being the longest running show in British theatre history. Interestingly, it actually became the longest running in 1958 as plays didn’t run for as long then as they do nowadays. When it was performed at the Grand last year tickets rapidly sold out. This year’s performance is for just three days and if Thursday night was anything to go by, it sold out again. As an avid reader of Christie’s murder mysteries during my teens, I’m not sure why I have never seen this before, but I was certainly looking forward to it as the curtain rose.
The scene was set in a country manor on a snowy afternoon. The owners, Molly and Giles Ralston, were discussing the imminent arrival of their first guests since deciding to turn the manor into a hotel. One by one the guests arrived. First to appear was the jovial and delightfully wacky Christopher Wren. He was delighted with the hotel and ran around like an excited child, which caused considerable mirth in the audience. Next to appear was harridan Mrs Boyle. She expressed distaste at everything she saw, taking the best seat by the fire, and was obnoxious and rude to the owners and other guests. I immediately found myself hoping that she would be the one to be murdered.
These guests were quickly followed by Major Metcalf and Miss Casewell. Everyone was preparing to go to dinner when there was a knock at the door. Who could this be? There were no more guests expected and, due to the heavy snow, the roads were impassable. The visitor asked if he may come in as his Rolls Royce has overturned in a snowdrift. He turned out to be an ageing lothario named Mr Paravicini.
Suddenly the telephone rang and Mrs Ralston was told that a police officer was on his way to see them. The reaction of the guests was worth watching when they learned of this. Eventually, Sergeant Trotter arrived to warn them of their imminent danger. There had already been a murder in London, and it would appear that the murderer was now in the hotel. Explanations were given and the household were asked if they had any connections to a court case from several years ago. They all denied this. The many twists and turns, with murder lurking around the corner, that followed had the audience suspecting everyone; they all seemed to have something to hide. But who was the murderer? Who would be murdered? And what were the connections to the court case of many years ago? Well I’m not going to tell you, I made the Mousetrap promise, but all will be revealed at the end of the play.
The set and acting was first rate throughout. In spite of the theme of murder, it was also hilarious at times. This excellent adaptation of the Empress of Crimes’ most popular work only ran until Saturday, but it is now on tour throughout the country until December.
Featured image credited to Helen Maybanks.
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