Thursday, September 28

The Mousetrap – Leeds Grand Theatre

North West End UK has a strict no spoilers policy.

That’s handy as giving away the twist at the end of this theatrical warhorse would break a solemn pledge made by generations of Agatha Christie fans over the last seven decades.

The Mousetrap has been pulling in tourists to its West End production since 1952 just after our late Queen was finding her feet as a monarch, and now it’s out on a national tour celebrating its 70th anniversary. Its record-breaking longevity is even more remarkable as it doesn’t feature Christie’s supersleuths Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot, but it is the classic Christie set up where a group of strangers assemble on a boat or a train and – shock horror – one of them is a murderer.

In The Mousetrap our cast of strangers assemble in a rambling country house turned into a hotel by newlyweds the Ralstons, and a plummy BBC radio report reveals there has been a murder in nearby London as heavy snow cuts them from civilisation.  

This is textbook Christie as the snobby Mrs Boyle, crusty old soldier Major Metcalf, the fragile youngster Christopher Wren and buttoned up Miss Carswell all enter.  They’re later joined by the mysterious Mr Paravicini, and young detective Sgt Trotter who arrives on skis to accuse one of the assembled gang as being responsible for London killing and planning to bump off someone in the house. But who?

No, I’m not going to give the game away as I won’t be the first reviewer to give away this holy grail of theatrical secrets.  Let’s just say if you like thrillers, and are paying attention, all the clues are there.

Christie herself noted that this warm blanket of a whodunnit also has elements of farce, which Ian Talbot and Denise Silvey’s direction ramp up as a decent cast run with it winning plenty of laughs, especially in the first half as the characters are all revealed to be harbouring secrets.

The experienced Steven Elliot’s Mr Paravicini is on the right side of over the top and Garyn Williams’ Sgt Trotter is a bag of nervous energy.  Grange Hill legend Todd Carty plays against type as the posh Major, and for fans of Casualty Catherine Shipton – aka Duffy – has fun with the silly Mrs Boyle. Rachel Dawson skilfully holds it together as brittle landlady Mollie Ralston playing well with Michael Lyle as her pompous husband Giles.  Shawn McCourt sensitively plays the troubled Christopher Wren.

The Mousetrap is a well-staged period piece that as Mrs Christie also noted is not really frightening, but its gentle charms as a solid thriller means it will likely to entertain audiences in London and wherever it tours for another seventy years.

The Mousetrap is at Leeds Grand Theatre until Saturday 2nd September. To book or 0113 2430808.

Reviewer: Paul Clarke

Reviewed: 29th August 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.