Agatha Christie's Mousetrap
It’s amazing how some things stand the test of time despite changing fashions, changing cultures and changing tastes. The Mousetrap was established in 1952 and over the following 67 years cinema, tv, theatre and entertainment in general have all undergone evolutions of their own. Yet, here is one play that continues to attract audiences across the land and across the ages.
The opening night of this current production, directed by Gareth Armstrong and produced by Adam Spiegel and Stephen Waley-Cohen once again played to an almost full house – an amazing sight from within the audience and no doubt an equally encouraging and satisfying one from the stage. The fact that most people have probably seen Christie’s most famous whodunnit at least once and still want to come back for more is testament to the brilliance of the writing and the guarantee that you are going to get a great evening’s entertainment.
The current cast include Gwyneth Strong (best known and loved as Cassandra in Only Fools and Horses) playing Mrs Boyle, a brilliant lynchpin performance of Mollie Ralston by the wonderful Harriett Hare and a deliciously delightful Lewis Chandler playing Christopher Wren.
Set in Monkswell Hall Guest House (with some exquisite set design), the new owners Giles and his aforementioned wife Mollie take in their first set of paying guests on a bleak and snowy night. Each present themselves having previously booked accommodation and yet all seem to be there for a different reason. Suspicions rise as one by one they are forced to interact with each other in the now snowed in hotel. Right from the off the audience can see elements of the mystery evolve, little details that link each other and failings in credibility hitherto unobserved by the characters, and yet we are still none the wiser or any closer to working out who the likely killer is.
The pace is perfect, allowing the audience time to play a little ‘Cluedo’ of their own as we delve further into the guests back stories but what may surprise some is how funny this play is; the humour being neither farcical, nor distracting, but integral in creating depth of character and giving no short measure of laughs.
For obvious reasons I will not go further in exploring or explaining the story, nor will I say who actually ‘dunnit’; like many that have come since, this story must retain it’s mystery right to the end – afterall I daren’t undo 67 years of keeping audiences guessing.
The Mousetrap is on at Darlington Hippodrome until Saturday 4th May (Star Wars Day)