The Mousetrap at the Palace Theatre - Ray's Review!
The long running Agatha Christie classic The Mousetrap is showing this week at the Palace Theatre and I was privileged to see it on it's strong opening night on Monday.
I loved that on a warm June evening we were transported to an ice-cold guest house, snowed in with its guests gratefully warming themselves by the fire. The set was a brilliant homage to the 1940s, as were the costumes and wonderfully clipped accents.
We enter the guest house on its first day of business, and it's a full house - a collection of strangers are thrown together and trapped there by the snow, and we hear on the wireless there's been a murder. Tensions run high as the strangers circle each other, the young owners Mr and Mrs Ralston flapping as they make sure everything runs smoothly, which of course it doesn't.
The story is classic mystery - an old house, stranded by weather, echoes of An Inspector Calls as a policeman arrives on skis to bring bad news. The jarring personalities of the characters is the real hook - yes, there's been a murder and somehow someone at the house is embroiled, but I loved watching them interact the most.
Mrs Boyle - played by Gwyneth Strong, best known for her role as Cassandra in Only Fools and Horses - is a snippy old woman who hates everything: the cold, the house, the fact her generous hosts are young, and in particular, young Christopher, an overgrown child who taunts and teases the other guests but has a vulnerability at heart.
Lewis Chandler's Christopher is an absolute scene stealer, slipping into scenes and revelling in the drama of the murder mystery. Special mention also has to go to Harriet Hare's Mollie Ralston, desperate to make a good go of the guest house but gently unravelling when it all starts to go wrong.
The acting is top notch in this production, as well as the set, props and costumes. It has the mystery perfectly pitched. You're absolutely bewildered when trying to work out what's happened (my mind was racing trying to solve the mystery). You'll never hear 'Three Blind Mice' in the same way again. There are lovely details: the use of the wireless, the lighting for dramatic effect - in one scene a character plays piano from the dining room off set, but you absolutely believe there's a real dining room and piano back there.
Famously, there's a strict rule about not passing on the solution to this whodunit - and I urge you to go to the Palace Theatre to see this great production and find it out for yourself.
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