…I went with a friend to see this at the Theatre Royal in Norwich:-
And, having heard details of a man the police would like to speak to in connection with the murder of a woman courtesy of the radio, three or four of the cast entering from stage left are dressed in a similar manner to the suspect.
Yes, this is typical Agatha Christie fare, with several people gathered together at an isolated guest house, cut off from the rest of the world by snow, and then a policeman arrives to tell them all that one among the company is a murderer, and two of the others are possible victims.
But of course one murder is never enough, and we are gifted sufficient red herrings to keep John West in fish for a year or more.
The Mousetrap has the distinction of being the longest running play to grace the London stage, some sixty years and nearly 25,000 performances, but this is the first time it has gone on tour. The cast are all luminaries of the small screen, most of them with a soap opera pedigree, which of course meant practically nothing to me, but they did a sterling job with material that wasn’t especially demanding.
I have to admit that I found the play very dated. There were some nice moments of humour, though the camp gay man seemed rather cliched, as did the shifty foreigner, who appeared to be channeling Poirot, with his dodgy continental accent. The plot didn’t particularly convince, with no real explanation as to how these characters just happened to all be gathered together under the same roof.
At the end, as per tradition, the lead actor appealed to the audience to keep the identity of the killer a secret, and I’ll respect that. I will admit though that I felt cheated. With most Christie it’s possible to guess who the killer is, with Poirot or Marple laying out the solution for the benefit of the less perceptive, but there’s nothing of that sort in play here. Knowing who the killer is hinges on information that simply isn’t available to the audience.
I’m glad I finally got to see this staple of British theatre, but at the same time perplexed as to how it has managed to remain popular for so long.