Saturday, July 13

The Mousetrap – The Lowry

The Mousetrap’s 70th Anniversary Tour has arrived at The Lowry Theatre in Salford. ‘The Mousetrap’ is the longest running play in the world which first opened in London’s West End in 1952 and ran continuously until March 2020. After closing its doors for a short break due to the Covid-19 pandemic it reopened in May 2021.

Being the longest running play in the world it is hard to bring anything new and insightful to a review of this timeless classic, even after 70 years (and counting) the play performs to packed audiences and The Lowry was no exception as the auditorium was full of Agatha Christie enthusiasts.

I must be honest that I had not seen ‘The Mousetrap’ before and didn’t know the story but its one of those plays that everyone seems to have heard of and knows it’s a murder mystery, but it is one I had not experienced or watched before.

The play starts with eery music playing and closed long red velvet curtains on the main stage that slowly open to reveal the stunning set of the main drawing room of Monkswell Manor Guest House, in all its grandeur of a magnificent period room with stained glass windows, the most stunning gothic fireplace and a wooden panelled room with authentic wall lights and a floral-patterned sofa and chairs with several rooms and staircase leading off from the main hall.

The newly opened Monkswell Manor Guest House proprietors are Mollie Ralston played by understudy Hollie Sullivan and Giles Ralston played by Barnaby Jago who are planning to welcome their first guests after arriving home both seemingly looking like they were intent on hiding something. The weather is that of heavy snow fall which is concerning for the safety of their guests arrival as the snowdrifts are increasing in velocity and discuss the plan if they are to be snowed in for a period of time and what food stores are available, during this time the radio news informs them that there has been a murder in the area and the suspect is that of a figure male or female wearing a long coat, light scarf and a hat which immediately arouses suspicion on how the couple behaved on their entrance.

One by one the guests arrive starting with Christopher Wren (Shaun McCourt) a hyperactive young man who acts quite childlike and mischievous. Next to arrive is Mrs Boyle (Gwyneth Strong) a critical older woman who seems to see negativity in everything about the new establishment, followed by Major Metcalf (Todd Carty) a retired military man who counteracts the negativity of Boyle with his relentless optimism. Miss Casewell (Amy Spinks) is next to arrive, she is a mannish young lady who clearly is quite aloof and not forthcoming with information. With the guest list complete or so they thought, they show the residents to their allocated rooms and prepare to start the evening meal when they are met with an unexpected male knocking on the door in a distressed state, Mr Paravicini (Steven Elliott) who has abandoned his overturned Royles Royce to seek shelter in their guest house from the blizzard outside.

The residents are snowed in the following day because of the snowdrift but they receive a call from Superintendent Hogben informing them that he is sending Sergeant Trotter (Michael Ayiotis) to the guest house, the Ralstons wonder what they have done wrong and await the arrival of the police to inform them further. On arrival Trotter explains that he has been sent in regard to the murder of Maureen Lyon the lady who was found dead the day before. A notebook had been found near the murder scene which contained the address of Monkswell Manor, and a note pinned to the lady’s body reading ‘This is the first’ making the police believe that the guest house was somehow connected to the murder and that the residents were in danger hence why he was present in the hope to discover the reason why!

Of course, this is an Agatha Christie’s whodunnit and a murder does indeed happen in the first act but like any good detective the motive and the murder will need to be established. Each and every guest has to recount their whereabouts at the time of the murder, and with lots of inconsistencies and weaknesses in their stories it becomes apparent that everyone in the guest house had the opportunity to commit the murder. But who, when and why? There are lots of twists and turns during the second act the before the identity of the murderer is finally exposed.

No spoilers on whodunnit as I have now joined the 10 million strong club who have witnessed the twist at the end and know who did it, but have been sworn to not disclose to anyone. It is a great credit of generations of theatregoers that nobody ever reveals the critical secret that ensures the play’s longevity.

The cast of eight were phenomenal in their delivery, all working well and seamlessly together throughout the performance. I was captivated from the beginning to the end finding myself questioning my own mind on who the murderer was, and I absolutely loved the twists and turns throughout the script.

The Creative Team has done an incredible job on creating a first class set for the cast to work with, which was not only pleasing to the eye but extremely versatile for the many entrances and exits during the performance. Directors Ian Talbot and Denise Silvey have produced a magnificent production of this impressive whodunnit play, one which I thoroughly enjoyed that kept me captivated throughout.

If you haven’t seen The Mousetrap, I would highly recommend you grab a ticket whilst you can and be prepared to have a wonderful evening of guessing who did it and why…

Playing until 13th April,

Reviewer: Katie Leicester

Reviewed: 8th April 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.