There is no denying that ‘The Mousetrap’ is one of the most elegant pieces of British Theatre History. As I set off for the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield... I was excited about seeing a piece of theatre that I didn’t really know anything about. Shameful I know, however, as someone who respects Agatha Christie’s work, I knew what I’d be in for.
This is an evening of murder, mystery and madness. The writing is brilliant and it keeps you guessing all night. At the end of the evening you are asked not to reveal who the Killer is in the latest of a large series of Agatha Christie thrillers. However, as I refreshed at the interval I began to have my suspicions. And I was pleased with myself at the end of the night that I had got it right. The West End production recently celebrated its 66th birthday although many people will have worked out ‘whodunit’ – there is a real sense of silence in the outside world – such is the respect from the many theatre goers who have and who continue to attend the longest running West End show. A masterstroke then to turn it into a national tour to make it accessible to so many more people throughout the country.
Although some of the productions features are slightly outdated when compared to some other UK touring productions, what should be admired is that ‘The Mousetrap’ has stuck to the quintessential traditions that make the production a success. The Set is both beautiful and practical – the snow effect at the back of the set looks amazing (quite how they have managed to find a silent snow machine I will never know). The actors work hard throughout the evening to keep everyone guessing. I would imagine that even if you have seen the production before, you would be forgiven for second guessing yourself.
In the 66 years since it opened in the West End, its theme, in which six Cluedo-like middle-class stereotypes are confined in a Country Hotel due to blizzard conditions. Throughout they suspicious of each other and each character takes the spotlight as the blame is passed on to them. – The truth is, on the whole it was all a little bit cliché.
The cast all had strengths although for me, the stars of the Show this evening were Harriet Hare as Mollie Rolston and Geoff Arnold as Sergeant Trotter. The audience felt a real connection with Harriet as Mrs Rolston, her charming nature and spritely personality alongside some brilliant acting helped her truly stand out. Arnold as Sergeant Trotter was a real game changer, the whole pace of the peace picked up when he arrived and it led to some thrilling viewing as the tension increased. Lewis Chandler as Christopher Wren should also be commended for bringing comedy to the table. Great to see Gwyneth Strong in the principle line-up to having not personally seen her since the days of Only Fools and Horses.
On the whole this was a good night out, but as much as the principles are charming and elegant, it needs some much needed life thrust into it.
Reviewer: Chris Hanlon
Reviewed: 11th February 2019
North West End Rating: ★★★