Agatha Christie’s quintessential murder mystery, The Mousetrap, is the longest running production in the world, now in its 60th year of being on stage. To celebrate its diamond anniversary, director Ian Watt-Smith is taking the play on tour, and it can currently be seen at the Wolverhampton Grand.
The Mousetrap is a tense but sometimes comical “whodunnit”, in which eight different people are confined by heavy snowfall in a guest house in the middle of the country: the flamboyant architect, the mysterious Italian who appears out of nowhere, and the self-contained young lady who claims to live in Majorca, to name but a few. When it turns out that there is a murderer amongst them, suspicions and accusations begin to fly and the guessing game begins. As each character reveals their own pasts and first impressions shrink into insignificance, the puzzle slowly falls into place piece by piece, and the audience are left hanging right until the very last minute before the culprit is revealed.
It is easy to see how this production has been continuously running for so long; the characters are subtly intriguing, the story is intelligent, and the audience can’t help but be drawn in every time the tiniest of clues makes itself known. Not to mention the sinister utilisation of a well-known nursery rhyme that sends shivers down the spine every time it’s whistled out into the auditorium. On the whole, the current touring production does justice to Christie’s work; it is well paced, funny in all the right places and very entertaining. The performances which particularly stand out are Steven France as Christopher Wren, the architect, who provides most of the comedy with his frank honesty and over-excitement, and Bob Saul as Detective Sergeant Trotter, who joins the audience in attempting to separate the lies from the truth. It is also a treat to see Elizabeth Power reprise her role as the prim and proper Mrs Boyle. There are, however, a few jarring conversational pauses throughout the production, and the second half holds more excitement than the first, but these things do not by any means prevent the show from being enjoyable.
The set design is effective in making the audience feel as though they too are guests at the house and there is just enough decoration to add to the authenticity without being too distracting from the action. The sound and lighting effects are also put to good use, both to create the feel of the period and tension when necessary.
By the end of the show you will, quite literally, be on the edge of your seat; The Mousetrap is definitely not one to miss.