March 6, 2024

You may well ask if I have been living under a rock or on another planet when I admit that throughout my adult life I have never seen The Mousetrap.

Not being a particular fan of Agatha Christie, apart from watching the odd Miss Marple or Poirot on television, I have never read any of her books. I am rather single vision when it comes to reading and will always go for historical fact or fiction. However my guest (who had also never seen the play) and I were determined to be open minded and we were immediately impressed by the set as we took our seats. No makeshift props for this production!

As I waited for the play to begin I mused upon what I knew of Agatha and her life and writing. This was the 70th anniversary tour of The Mousetrap, the world premiere having taken place in Nottingham, October 1952, before even I was born, and I am no spring chicken. It opened in London later that year and moved to St. Martin’s theatre in 1974 where it has played ever since. Surely that must tell any would be theatre goer that a play of that longevity must be worth watching.

I will say straight off the bat that there is not one cast member that I can single out for a special mention as they were all perfect in their roles. However, it is always a special treat to recognise those you may have seen in previous productions, film and television roles. Todd Carty I had not seen since his younger days in Eastenders but I rather liked his mature persona and fine performance. I was surprised to read in the programme of his many other roles, before and after the soap. The same can be said for Gwyneth Strong who, despite her many acting credits, will always be Cassandra from Only Fools and Horses for me. Just because I did not recognise the other players on stage does not mean their performance was any less professional or gripping, as the play progressed there was no one who I favoured above another.

As I mentioned, the setting for this play was the best I have seen at the Palace Theatre and was further enhanced by very realistic sound effects and lighting that added to the realism. Voice volume was perfect (something I have had difficulty with in past productions) and I could clearly hear every word thanks to cleverly hidden headsets, only visible if you were looking for them.

This is probably the best play I have ever seen, the emphasis on play rather than a showy musical, and it was a very enjoyable evening which opened my mind to investigating the work of Agatha Christie further.

In the interest of honesty I have to say that by the interval we both had a very good idea of ‘whodunnit’. I think this was born not of some higher intelligence but the usual ploy of thriller/crime writers in that the one you least suspect is usually the culprit. But as every character had an equal share of the acting limelight the one you suspect may very well be different to the one I suspected. But, anyone who knows anything about The Mousetrap will also know that the audience is asked not to reveal the identity of the villain who turned out to be..........ooooops nearly, my lips are now sealed!


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