The Mousetrap, New Theatre

September 30, 2016 by

The Mousetrap,” you may be thinking to yourself, “that ancient thing is still going?” Yes, indeed. This beloved Agatha Christie murder mystery has passed the 60-year mark and is the longest running show, of any kind, in the world. It may be that you haven’t seen it yet. Do you think it’s like the Crown Jewels at the Tower or all of Shakespeare’s works –  you know they’ll always be there, and you’ll get around to them eventually? Perhaps you were sick the day your class went to see it, you’re a tourist or a new resident. Maybe you’ve been busy or just plain lazy. Well, stop procrastinating or whatever you’ve been doing , and go see this by Saturday.


Of course The Mousetrap is set in an old mansion. Where else? There’s been a huge snowstorm in the Berkshire countryside and everyone is trapped, but that’s the thrill of it all. The setting is perfect. You’ll feel like you’re curled up on the sofa on a cold day sipping hot chocolate, watching a 1950s film. The play isn’t based on one of her books but was originally a radio drama. A newly-married Mollie and Giles Ralston (Anna Andresen and Nick Barclay) have opened up their home, Monkswell Manor, as a guesthouse and are receiving their inaugural guests.  Mollie is a somewhat flighty (she has a lot of nervous energy to burn, as we say) but obedient, caring wife, and Giles is a middle-class, new man-of-the-manor.




First to arrive is the very delightful and gay young man, Christopher Wren (Oliver Gully), an architect. Who knew? He thinks antiques and old piles are divine, adores cooking and is an absolute hoot. Brusque Mrs. Boyle (Sarah Whitlock), every proprietor’s nightmare, announces her presence and starts complaining about wood rot and the lack of servants. Bringing up the rear is Major Metcalf (Tony Boncza) who shared a taxi with the no-nonsense snob.  He’s just what you’d expect a senior army man from this type of story to be. Pip, pip, old chap and all of that. Except that he’s nobody’s fool as it turns out. Next is the evasive, chilly Miss Casewell (Amy Downham), who must be a lesbian because she’s wearing trousers and has a severe, short bob, right? Wait, an unexpected soul turns up seeking shelter. He’s an older man of foreign extraction, but is he really? Mr. Paravicini (Gregory Cox) claims his car has overturned in the blizzard. He’s played as a shifty magician-type right out of a Tales Of The Unexpected episode.


They learn of a crime that’s been committed in London. A woman who was convicted years ago (along with her husband}, of abusing three foster children in their care, has been found murdered. They both served time in jail, where the husband died. The local police superintendent phones and says a Sgt. Trotter will be arriving to speak to them. Trotter (understudy Alan Magor) shows up on skis and explains the house is connected to the case and the people in it may be in danger. Then – can you believe it –  the phone is dead.


I’m not giving away any more plot.  It reminded me a bit of Rebecca, Then There Were None and Cluedo all rolled into one. Alright, you don’t really get to see what makes these characters tick (well, perhaps three of them), and there’s clichés galore.  So what? I say.  The actors are playing a type, and they do this perfectly. They’re not just going through the motions. I won’t single anyone out because they’re all top-rate. Don’t wait to see The Mousetrap in the West End because you think the actors may be better. They won’t be. If you love trying to solve a whodunit using your ‘little grey cells’ and delight in vintage play-going, this will be right up your alley. This play is out of a time capsule, and that‘s the way it should be. There’s enough blood, gore and torture to witness on TV and at the movies. Enjoy this slice of Christie’s homemade England. At the end, you’ll be asked not to reveal the murderer to anyone outside the theatre. You’ll feel like you’re in a member’s-only club, but shhh…don’t let the cat out of the bag!



Until October 1.

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