🎭 The Mousetrap
📍 Princess Theatre, Torbay Road, Torquay, Devon, TQ2 5EZ
🗓 Monday 11th September 2023
Last night I was at the Princess Theatre on Torquay’s seafront to see the world’s longest running play The Mousetrap, which is currently touring to celebrate 70 years on the West End. There was something rather special and poignant of watching this show in Torquay as it was the birthplace of author Agatha Christie.
As the play begins we meet Mollie and Giles Ralston who are preparing to open their guest house in Buckinghamshire for the first time and are awaiting the arrival of their first guests. Whilst waiting they hear on the wireless that there has been a murder in nearby London and that the murder suspect is described as wearing a dark overcoat, light scarf and soft felt hat. Exactly what they’re both wearing when they enter!
The weather is terrible with a heavy snowfall outside, but their first guest manages to get there, and he too is wearing a dark overcoat, light scarf and soft felt hat! Indeed every character that enters is wearing very similar garments in the classic Christie style of humour and suspense.
Christopher Wren is the first to arrive. An eccentric and unintentionally offensive young man who is endearing from the start. Then arrives Mrs Boyle, a cantankerous perfectly horrible woman! They’re followed by the other expected guests Miss Casewell, who is standoffish from the outset, and Major Metcalf who is a quintessential old English military fellow.
Finally there is a mysterious unexpected guest. Mr Paravicini arrives after his car has overturned in the snow. The classic red herring is a must in any good whodunnit and this character fills this role perfectly. A modern day audience can spot a red herring easily and the production understands this and deals with it wonderfully.
The guests have a somewhat fraught relationship and it seems that each would rather not be in a room if it is occupied by another. What are they trying to hide?
The next day Inspector Sgt. Trotter arrives (on skis due to the snow!) and reports that a piece of paper was found at the murder scene in London with two addresses. One is the address of the murder victim and the other is the address of the guest house. He believes the murder is related to a tragedy that happened at a neighbouring farm many years ago and because of a link with the nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice, he believes two more murders will take place at the guest house.
His fears are realised when just before the interval one of the characters is murdered. But who is responsible and what was their motive?
For me the second act is much stronger than the first as this is where we start to see behind the masks of the characters. The play asks the question ‘How well do we really know anyone?’ Can there be honest reasons why Giles Ralston lied about being in London on the day of the murder or why Christopher Wren and Miss Casewell are not using their real names?
I always love the community aspect of a good murder mystery and interval discussions abound about who patrons believe is the prime suspect are a glorious part of the experience.
I obviously won’t give anything away here but it’s safe to say that it’s genuinely surprising when the murderer is revealed, and it kind of comes out of nowhere which gleefully shocks the audience. Agatha Christie writes characters wonderfully and the revelations keep coming, even after the murderer is revealed!
Todd Carty shines in his role as Major Metcalf, completely embodying every aspect, with a great shift at the end which he portrays wonderfully. Apart from Carty, the entire cast was different to the cast I had seen earlier on the tour and they were all great.
Shaun McCourt had great energy as Christopher Wren and because of his eccentricities it would be easy to make this character into a bit of a joke but McCourt avoids this wonderfully and gives a strong performance. Likewise Garyn Williams is rather idiosyncratic as Detective Sgt. Trotter which is glorious to witness.
Catherine Shipton is delightfully dislikable in her role as Mrs Boyle and Leigh Lothian is wonderfully understated as Miss Casewell. Steven Elliot is enigmatic as Mr Paravicini, even if his accent is somewhat confusing!
The Mousetrap is everything you want from a classic murder mystery and more! It’s enthralling from the start and is full of twists and turns which have you constantly changing your mind as you become a detective in your seat trying to figure out who the murderer is.
The direction, set design and lighting combine wonderfully to tell the story and the cast received well deserved rapturous applause at the end.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this thrilling show to anyone and it continues at Torquay’s Princess Theatre until Saturday 16th September. Head to www.atgtickets.com to check availability and book tickets.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest and free from influence.
My ticket for this performance of The Mousetrap was gifted by the Princess Theatre who invited me to watch the performance in exchange for my honest review. The fact that my ticket was gifted played no part in the star rating given or the content of my review.
Rachel Dawson as Mollie Ralston; Michael Lyle as Giles Ralston; Shaun McCourt as Christopher Wren; Catherine Shipton as Mrs Boyle; Todd Carty as Major Metcalf; Leigh Lothian as Miss Casewell; Steven Elliot as Mr Paravicini; Garyn Williams as Detective Sgt. Trotter
RUNNING TIME (approx):
2 hours 20 minutes, including interval
The Princess Theatre is part of the Ambassadors Theatre Group and is situated on Torquay’s beautiful seafront. The theatre acts as a South Devon showcase for the very best West End and touring productions.