I FIRST saw The Mousetrap during its 15th year in London’s West End, having come to what seemed a logical conclusion that this simple little Whodunit could not possible last much longer in the capital.
Looking around a near-capacity house on the play’s opening night at Weston-super-Mare’s Playhouse Theatre, and observing the wide age range of the audience, it is a fair bet that the world’s longest running play has every chance of at least reaching the landmark three-quarters-of-a-century mark.
Of course, en-route it has become a period piece. Ration Cards get a mention and there’s no sign of a mobile phone or computer. “Wouldn’t it be a good idea to update it?” I heard one person suggest. No, it would not it would kill the play stone dead. The story and the characters belong to that immediate post World War 2 period, and would wither and die if uprooted and transplanted into the 21st century.
Fortunately the producers, directors Ian Talbot and Denise Silvey, and actors all agree on this subject. The original big draughty wood-panelled room with big bay window space, ornate fireplace and masses of doors and entrance and exit places, makes an ideal setting. Clothes and hairstyles match, and the eight-strong cast act in the grand manner. There’s no mumbling or long psychological pauses and lines are delivered with power and belief, ensuring that there can be no mistaking what they were meant to convey, and the person in the back row with hearing problems was not left struggling to pick up the message.
This 70th Anniversary tour has already been a long one, and is still far from over, which makes the efforts of Rachel Dawson and Michael Lyle, the young couple opening her inherited Manor House for the first time as a Guest House, Shaun McCourt’s nerve-jangling youthful architect Christopher Wren, Catherine Shipton’s disagreeable, nit-picking Mrs Boyle, Todd Carty’s hail-fellow-well-met retired Major Metcalf, Leigh Lothian’s prickly-as-a-hedgehog Miss Casewell, Steven Elliott’s mysterious Italian visitor Mr Paravicini and Garyn Williams enthusiastic investigator, Detective Sgt Trotter, all the more commendable. No signs of fatigue, or lack of commitment amongst this octet. All you have to do is keep an eye out for clues and see if you are ahead of the game, firstly discovering who the victim is going to be, revealed at the close of Act 1, and more importantly … whodunit.
That being achieved you can join the more than ten million others who have already seen The Mousetrap, and, at the request of the murderer, not given the game away to those who have not yet seen Agatha Christie’s world record breaker.