The Mousetrap is the world’s longest running play according to The Guinness Book of Records. It opened in London in 1952. It is both a country house mystery and a drawing room drama set in the post-war world.
Mollie (Joanna Croll) and Giles Ralston (Henry Luxemburg) have turned their home Monkswell Manor into a guesthouse. Various bizarre guests arrive, trailing their baggage – both literally and metaphorically. It was a slow start and during the first two acts, I found myself admiring the set, a brilliant period wood panelled lounge, with roaring fire, warm lighting, and snow falling gently against leaded windows.
It is only with the arrival of the uninvited ‘Sergeant’ Trotter, that we get to the heart of the drama, with its twists and turns, and of course its red herrings. Classic Christie. Potter, played by Jonathan Woolf, unravels the lives of this disparate bunch of guests, uncovering their secrets and rattling their nerves. It leads, as one would expect, to the identity of the killer.
At the end, the audience is asked to keep the murderer’s identity a secret and it would be morally wrong for me to expose the ending. A crime in fact. Agatha Christie said of her play: ‘It’s not really frightening. It’s not really horrible. It’s not really a farce.’ Well, that’s certainly true and maybe why it’s starting to show its age. It lacks pace and the comedy is lacklustre. It’s not even as if it’s one of Christie’s best plays.
Despite my reservations, the audience loved it. Drawn I expect from Christie’s reputation and curious to know why this old warhorse has endured. Even Christie herself predicted it would only ‘last eight months.’ Nevertheless, here we are, more than sixty years on and it is still going. A mystery? Certainly.
This review was first published on The Flaneur website.