The Mousetrap UK Tour Review

Agatha Christie's play, The Mousetrap, continues into its 68th year in London and once again is touring the UK and Ireland. The World's Longest Running play continues to entice and intrigue audiences.

Your typical murder mystery, we're greeted with a varied collection of colourful characters who end up stranded by a snowstorm at the guest house they've all come to stay at and after a murder occurs it's up to them to discover who committed the crime. It's difficult to talk about the plot without dropping spoilers so I'll avoid telling you too much about what occurs. One of the main reason the play continues to this day is the reliance on the audience not to spoil the ending.

The Touring Company of The Mousetrap. Photo - Landscape Group

Having seen the production in London last year it was fascinating to sit back and notice all the clues I missed the first time (although I did guess the identity of the murderer by the interval on that first watch). Watching it for a second time makes the whole experience different as you know how and who has done the crimes and this allows you to sit and pick up all the clues along the way.

The play does heavily rely on consequences and some of those are a bit silly and some are quite stereotypical but they work as the plot twists and turns right until the end. The cleverness of Christie's writing is that she manages to keep making swerves and diversions.

The setting of "the present" (the 1950s) does make the production feel dated and in places quite stale. It's cleverly set in one room which connects to various other rooms, through doors, stairs and a window. The original designs of Roger Furse haven't been tweaked much over the years. The lighting and sound do add a bit of atmosphere and suspense.

Here assembled is a strong company of actors. Susan Penhaligon is wickedly uppity as Mrs Boyle (think of Hyacinth Bucket but even more annoying). She creates the character brilliantly that you can see why everyone struggles to get on with her. Steven Elliott effectively creates the mysterious Mr Paravicini. He's at his finest as he teases with the Three Blind Mice nursery rhyme which hinges some of the plot together. Martin Allanson as Detective Sergeant Trotter is brilliant as tries to connect everything together as he investigates and looks to tie down the murderer before anyone else becomes a victim.

Edith Kirkwood and Adam Lilley create the central characters of Mr and Mrs Ralston, the owners of Monkswell Manor, with great skill. Edith is outstanding throughout. George Naylor's cartoon-like energy makes you warm to his likeable Christopher Wren. Stephen Bowen understudying as Major Metcalf and Laura Costello as Miss Casewell loom a bit more in the background but both also play important roles.
Martin Allanson (Sgt Trotter) and Edith Kirkwood
(Mollie Ralston). Photo - Landscape Group

The play at a two hour running time (plus a 20-minute interval) does feel a little long and stale in places and I struggle to see why the play has managed to last for so long as it doesn't feel like anything particularly remarkable but I guess it's down to Agatha Christie's fine writing and her skill for murder mysteries. It's more than worthy of a visit especially with a cast like this.

Rating - ★★★ 1/2 - enjoyable but slightly dated murder mystery, driven by a talented cast.

The Mousetrap continues at Leicester's Haymarket Theatre until Saturday 14th March. Visit www.haytheatre.com for tickets. The tour continues thereafter, visit mousetrapontour.com for more

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