The Mousetrap

"This play is the jewel in the crown of Agatha Christie’s vast catalogue of work and still being enjoyed by audiences of all ages"

Perhaps one of the most famous of Agatha Christie’s murder mystery stories has been entertaining audiences in London’s West End for the past 70 years giving it the accolade of the longest running play in the world.  Due to its continued popularity and this incredible milestone, the show has embarked on a 70th Anniversary tour visiting 70 different locations across the length and breadth of the country, asking audiences ‘who dunnit’ up until November 2023!

Safe to say, Agatha Christie is perhaps the most prolific crime writer of our time, with many of her stories made into films, TV adaptations and stage productions.  This was the second time I had seen The Mousetrap, having seen it at its usual home of the St Martin’s Theatre in London earlier this year, so I was ahead of the game, however this did not distract from enjoying this classic story once again.

I am clearly not going to divulge the culprit as we are told to keep the secret “locked in our hearts” so not to spoil the surprise for anyone else.  I even kept the secret from my husband who was my plus one at the Alexandra Theatre, although he did have an inkling during the interval!

The cast for this 70th Anniversary tour has some very familiar faces, including Gwyneth Strong of Only Fools and Horses fame playing Mrs Boyle and two Eastender favourites, Todd Carty as Major Metcalf and John Altman as Mr Paravicini.  We are however treated to an incredibly strong cast of wonderful performers who keep us on the edge of our seat trying to solve the case.  Elliot Clay as Christopher Wren plays this role so brilliantly.  His character is larger than life and very excitable.  Clay bounds around the stage taking on this playful role so well and was definitely the standout performer for me.

The action is set within Monkswell Manor Guest House run by Mollie Ralston (Joelle Dyson) and Giles Ralston (Laurence Pears).  Both are very new to the guest house world and begin nervously to welcome their various guests to stay the night just as a snowstorm builds outside.  Dyson and Pears have great chemistry of a newly married couple and deliver their lines well.  The slick movement of dialogue keeps the story flowing well and there is no drop in pace throughout.

We meet Mrs Boyle (Gwyneth Strong), a rather cantankerous woman who clearly has ideas above her station as to how a guest house should be run and ruffles a few feathers throughout the story.  Strong delivers the role well and captures the hostile attitude her character has towards the other guests and her surroundings.  Essie Barrow plays Miss Casewell, a character who has come to stay at the Guest House whilst visiting from her usual home in Spain. She keeps herself to herself and remains quite mysterious throughout the story.  Barrow has great diction whilst delivering her lines and was very believable in her role.

Major Metcalf (Todd Carty) and Mr Paravicini (John Altman) bring some comedic moments to the story.  Both Carty and Altman are obviously very well-known for being in Eastenders so to see them take on completely different roles was wonderful.  I must admit to finding their accents slightly funnier than perhaps they should have been, however they bought great energy to the stage. 

Finally, completing the cast is Joseph Reed who plays Detective Sgt. Trotter. Bursting into Monkswell Manor on skis to get out of the ever-growing blizzard outside, he causes a commotion questioning the rest of the guests about a murder that had previously taken place in London.  Reed has great stage presence and fantastic diction, which is so important with a play, so not to lose your thread within the story.

I must make mention of the set, constructed by Splinter Scenery.  You really are transported to a grand, almost stately home with wood panelling, grand curtains and roaring fireplace.  It really does set the scene.

This play is the jewel in the crown of Agatha Christie’s vast catalogue of work and still being enjoyed by audiences of all ages.  Without a doubt, a must see………but just remember not to spoil the surprise!

Reviewed at The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham on the 1st November 2022.  Tickets are available here: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-mousetrap/the-alexandra-theatre-birmingham/

 

Photo credit: Matt Crockett

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