Original story by Agatha Christie
Directed by Ian Talbot and Denise Silvey
Review by David Bithell
At the end of this refined Agatha Christie thriller, the newly uncovered homicidal maniac steps into a sinister spotlight and warns everyone never to reveal his or her identity. The production celebrates its 70th anniversary with this tour and we are warned at the end not to reveal “Whodunnit”.
Given that The Mousetrap is 70 years old this year is remarkable in itself, but it is clear to see that Murder Mystery is still very much alive and kicking.
Even before the play began the conversation with the other half was “are you good at guessing the murderer”.
The rich red curtain greets you on arrival to the auditorium, with the period spooky music playing in the background.
I was in awe of the staging as the curtain raised. We were greeted with an amazing wood panelled, stained glass-windowed manor house, complete with rugs, wooden floorboards, a huge fireplace with authentic wall lights and a floral patterned sofa and chairs.
Set somewhere outside of London in rural middle England with one road leading to it which is rapidly disappearing under the fast-falling snow outside. It is the perfect setting to stay (or is it) as we later find out.
Mollie and Giles Ralston are portrayed as slightly out of their depth owners of this guest house. Inexperienced but willing to give it a go, they are nervously looking forward to welcoming their new guests. Joelle Dyson(Mollie Ralston) and Laurence Pears(Giles Ralston) both put in enduring performances as the hosts.
One by one we are introduced to a plethora of guests from the nervy, energetic, child-like architect Christopher Wren (yes, there is a connection) played with an abundance of enthusiasm by Elliot Clay, to critical, fault-finding Mrs Boyle (played by the lovely Gwynneth Strong) Miss Casewell (played by Essie Barrow) the feisty but mysterious character, and the retired army Major Metcalf, who was played by none other than Todd Carty.
An unexpected addition turns up in the form of Italian mystery man Mr Paravicini (played by Kieran Brown), complete with his dapper outfit including waist-coat, gold watch and chain. Played with a lustful scoff and a suitably teasing Italian demeanour, the stereotyped guest list is complete.
The scene is now set for the classic tale of whodunnit. Detective Sergeant Trotter (Joseph Reed) arrives on skis to warn the group that the murder we heard of in London has a local connection, that they could all be in serious danger and with all murder mysteries, the killer themselves could (and probably is) one of them. As the characters, with their various class attitudes and accents, play out the rest of the plot so dark secrets are revealed; each and every character has good reason and opportunity to be the killer.
The plot has you guessing all the way through to the end, with funny nuances, strong personalities and solid performances of each character.
Due to the quality of writing by Agatha Christie, 70 years on, The Mousetrap is still as popular as ever. Long may it continue.
Judging by the long list of venues for this tour stretching well into 2024, the longest running play ever will be playing to packed houses for many years to come.
The Mousetrap continues at the Regent Theatre, Hanley until Saturday 8th April 2023.
For tickets goto: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-mousetrap/regent-theatre/ or by calling the box office on 0844 871 7627.