The popular Agatha Christie play The Mousetrap has been a constant tourist drawcard in London since it was first performed in 1952, meaning that perhaps the whodunit’s biggest mystery is how the show is not outdated. Australian audiences can determine this for themselves in the latest on-tour production of the West End version of the show.
Act One bristles along with arrival of characters at the just-opened Monkswell Manor guesthouse of young newlywed couple Giles and Mollie Ralson (Alex Rathgeber and Anna O’Bryrne). With the Cluedo-like group of somewhat stereotypical characters snowed-in, a crime occurs that makes everyone vulnerable to a potential murderer in their midst. Act Two slows a little as we go through each of the character’s back stories, after a detective skis in to question the guests.
Overall, the play is quite well paced. A lot of the time the entire cast occupies the stage and its Great Hall setting. Part of the show’s appeal comes from its familiar setting and tropes. The 1950s drawing-room comedy is set in an England where servants and afternoon teas are par for the course and where up-to-date news of murders and the like come via the wireless. Directed by Robin Nevin, the skilfully-written work also includes some dark themes. No-one is quite who they seem and there is cause to question the potential guilt of all the characters. The plot includes twists aplenty.
The production is suspenseful from start to finish, while it also has umpteen comedic moments. Christie’s writing shows a gift for characterisation, which is realised by the efforts of the talented cast. They include Adam Murphy as retired army Major Metcalf, Charlotte Friels as the aloof Miss Casewell, Gerry Connolly as Mr Paravicini and Tom Conroy as Detective Sergeant Trotter. Geraldine Turner is a standout as the stern Mrs Boyle, who is critical of everything and everyone she sees. The audience favourite is Laurence Boxhall as the foppish architect Christopher Wren. His childlike spirit adds much of the humour.
Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is an enduring classic, which is on at QPAC, The Playhouse until 20th November, 2022.