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  • Writer's pictureNeill Kovacic-Clarke

REVIEW: THE MOUSETRAP @ THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH

🎭 The Mousetrap

📍 The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR

🗓 Monday 20th March 2023

⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Mousetrap is currently on tour around the UK, celebrating 70 years continuously playing in London's West End, minus the pandemic of course! Last night I was invited to Theatre Royal Plymouth to see the production for the first time.


The story follows all the traits of a classic "whodunnit" story with the audience trying to work out who the murderer is before the big reveal. Obviously I won't be giving away the culprit in my review!


The story is set in a guest house 30 miles outside of London and centres around the young couple who run the establishment and their eclectic mix of guests. A murder has happened in London and is linked to a neighbouring farm and the address of the guest house has been left at the scene of the crime, which also alludes to the fact that there will be two more murders at this location.


The play is as cleverly written as you'd expect from Agatha Christie and keeps you guessing right up until the reveal, which kind of happens unexpectedly and out of nowhere! There are red herrings throughout to throw you off the scent and I love the social element of swapping theories with fellow patrons during the interval.

Production Image: The cast of the touring production of The Mousetrap


As a huge Christie fan I was actually a little underwhelmed by the story in all honesty. I didn't find it quite as thrilling as plays such as Witness For The Prosecution and strangely found the build up to the murder more enthralling than what happened afterwards!


That being said it was still an enjoyable evening at the theatre and I'm glad that I've finally seen this show and I was extremely impressed with the acting throughout the piece. The entire cast were wonderful character actors who totally embodied their roles.


I loved that the vague description of the killer said that they were average height wearing a long black coat, light coloured scarf and soft felt hat and that every character was wearing this exact outfit!


Mollie and Giles Ralston are the young couple who run the guest house and are played in this production by Joelle Dyson and Laurence Pears. Dyson had beautiful characterisation throughout and was extremely believable. I loved her vulnerability and she played her sweet, slightly naive, character well. Pears was wonderful and showed great versatility with being able to play straight and comical side by side. You really believe he loves his wife and wants to protect her.


The first guest we meet is Christopher Wren, played by Elliot Clay who is deliciously eccentric. He is almost over the top but this works wonderfully for his character. He has a great energy and likability and his warmth encapsulates the audience.

Production Images: Joelle Dyson as Mollie Ralston; Laurence Pears as Giles Ralston; Elliot Clay as Christopher Wren


Next enters Mrs Boyle. Played by Gwyneth Strong she is rather stuck up and has quite an unlikeable character. Strong plays the role exceedingly well and with utter believability. The fact that I took a dislike to her is testament to how good her acting skills were. It would be so easy to over exaggerate this character but Strong was very real and true-to-life throughout.


Next to enter is Major Metcalf who is portrayed by Todd Carty. Metcalf is an army veteran and has all the classic characteristics of this type of person from the era the play is set in. Carty plays the part with precision and I enjoyed how his character develops and how he changes when his secret is revealed. He has one of the biggest changes of all the characters and Carty portrays this magnificently.


The entire cast are without question extremely talented but I was especially impressed by Strong and Carty in particular because they are both well-loved by the public for their television roles and it can be difficult sometimes as an audience member to detatch the actor from these characters. However the excellent characterisation of the two made you completely forget their famous roles and you weren't watching Cassandra from Only Fools and Horses or Mark from Eastenders but two completely different people.

Production Images: Gwyneth Strong as Mrs Boyle; Todd Carty as Major Metcalf


Essie Barrow played Miss Casewell and was perhaps the most elusive of all the characters. Although I worked out her secret early on, the way it was revealed was done well. Barrow gave a strong performance as did Kieran Brown as Mr Paravicini. He is a rather eccentric character who is the only guest not to have booked a room. He turns up on the doorstep when his car overturns in the snow. Brown excels in the role and Paravicini is perhaps the most comic of all the characters.


The final character we meet is Detective Sgt. Trotter who is played by Joseph Reed. Reed is absolutely wonderful in the role and gives off a great energy which draws you to him whenever he's on stage. I really enjoyed his character arc and this is played out impressively by Reed.

Production Images: Essie Barrow as Miss Casewell; Kieran Brown as Mr Paravinci; Joseph Reed as Detective Sgt. Trotter


So although I think the overall story could have been a little stronger, I still enjoyed the performance and the acting on display was enthralling. This is definitely a play that is not to be missed and it is fun acting as amateur sleuth in your seat as you try and piece the evidence together.


Every character seems to have a secret that they are anxious to share, but does that make them a murderer? There's only one way to find out!


The Mousetrap continues at Theatre Royal Plymouth until Saturday 25th March. Head to www.theatreroyal.com to check availability and book tickets.


Neill Kovacic-Clarke


All views are my own and I pride myself on being open, honest and free from influence.


My tickets for this performance were gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to the Press Night to review the production. The fact that my tickets were gifted played no part in my star rating for this review.


CAST LIST

Mollie Ralston: Joelle Dyson

Giles Ralston: Laurence Pears

Christopher Wren: Elliot Clay

Mrs Boyle: Gwyneth Strong

Major Metcalf: Todd Carty

Miss Casewell: Essie Barrow

Mr Paravicini: Kieran Brown

Detective Sgt. Trotter: Joseph Reed


RUNNING TIME (approx)

2 hours 20 minutes, including interval

The mission of Theatre Royal Plymouth is to develop and deepen people's engagement with pioneering creativity in Plymouth and the South West, delivering experiences that spark delight, expression and fulfilment. The venue is the principle home of the performing arts in the South West.

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