Tuesday, May 28

The Mousetrap – Floral Pavilion

What do you get when you combine masterful storytelling and captivating characters? Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, that’s what! The world’s longest running play – currently 70yrs old – is still going strong, thrilling theatres and keeping audiences on their toes. It’s a classic.

Lights dim and the curtains pull back on a stupendously wide set. Time rolls back to reveal the living room of a guesthouse in 1950s England, the ideal setting for a good old-fashioned whodunnit to take place.

Christie’s unparalleled ability to craft a suspenseful and engaging narrative quickly makes its impact felt. There is a chilling atmosphere of intrigue and mystery from the very first scene. As the tension builds and secrets unravel, the audience is on the edge of their seats, eagerly anticipating the next twist.

As is tradition with this play, the plot cannot be revealed. Audiences are accomplices and it is very much a ‘you have to be there’ experience.

But what an experience The Mousetrap is. Directed by Ian Talbot and Denise Silvey, it has people sleuthing for clues throughout and suspicious of everything. Are those gloves significant? What about that look he just gave? The auditorium door discreetly opens, and the audience turn. Is it part of the play or just someone popping back in?

The staging by Lauren Barclay makes a notable contribution to how it feels to witness the play unfold. It’s ambitious in scale with a cinematic aura to it. The sitting room strikes the right balance between a stately home and space for the plot to inhabit. There is a clever construction of extra scenes by having doors to rooms that support the narrative visible on stage, made all the more believable by well-curated sound effects. A stream of snow falling behind a large window adds ambience and movement to what could otherwise seem like a flat scene, echoing passing time as well as having a plot function.

Who would have thought just 8 characters, and one set could create such a lasting legacy?

In typical Christie style the storyline revolves around a varied ensemble of individuals. It may be no surprise they find themselves trapped in a remote location. Mr and Mrs Ralston (Michael Lyle and Rachel Dawson) and their marriage provide the centre point for activity while the inimitable peppering of personalities Christie is so revered for come from strangers fatefully brought to the guesthouse. There’s the naive Christopher Wren (Shaun McCourt) juxtaposed beautifully by the acerbic Miss Casewell (Leigh Lothian). Major Metcalf (Todd Carty) and Mrs Boyle (Catherine Shipton) anchor the gentler, less eccentric but equally compelling characters of the set while mischievously macabre humour comes from Mr Paravicini (Steven Elliot). Lines and comedic timing are spot on, but special mention must go to Garyn Williams and his portrayal of Detective Sgt Trotter.

All in all, this is an exciting night out. With so many theories to think about and clues to compare, it’s a great experience to share with others – just remember, it could be anyone, though.

Reviewer: Ezzy LaBelle

Reviewed: 6th November 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.