Reviewed by Katy Hart
This week the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon is hosting Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap UK Tour.
The Mousetrap was originally a short radio play (called Three Blind Mice) written by Agatha Christie as an 80th birthday present for Queen Mary (consort of King George V) and broadcast in 1947. The play is based on this short story and upon Agatha Christie’s request the story is not to be published in the UK as long as it runs as a play in the West End of London. It was first performed in October 1952 and is the longest running show in the history of West End theatre.
Just as the curtain is set to lift, you hear the screams of Maureen Lyon as she is murdered. The curtain then lifts, and you find yourself in the Grand Hall of Monkswell Manor, which has been newly opened as a guesthouse run by Mollie (Edith Kirkwood) and Giles Ralston (Adam Lilley). Mollie arrives home to hear on the radio a report about the murder of Maureen and the police describe the suspect as wearing a dark coat, light scarf and felt hat. As Mollie and Giles await the arrival of their guests the snow begins to fall. Each guest arrives dressed of course in dark coat, light scarf and felt hat. First to arrive is Christopher Wren (George Naylor). He is a young, nervous man who Mollie instantly takes a liking to. Next to arrive are Mrs Boyle (Susan Penhaligon) and Major Metcalf (John Griffiths) who arrive in a taxi together. Mrs Boyle finds fault with everything and Major Metcalf is all you would expect of a military officer. The last booked guest to arrive is Miss Casewell (Laura Costello), dressed in a manly suit. Just after Miss Casewell has arrived there is another knock at the door. It is Mr Paravicini (Steven Elliott), a foreign accented man, who claims his Rolls Royce has overturned in the snow and he is seeking somewhere to stay for the evening. The weather has really taken a turn for the worse and it would appear they are to be snowed in.
The final visitor to the Manor is Detective Sgt Trotter (Martin Allanson) who arrives following a telephone call from the police announcing that someone was being sent to the guesthouse. Trotter arrives on his skis and at the same time it is discovered that the phone line has gone dead.
Trotter explains that at an old murder a notebook was discovered with two addresses. One being the address of Maureen Lyon, the other being Monkswell Manor, and this is the reason he has been sent. As the next hours and following days play out there is a second murder and it is confirmed that one of them is indeed the murderer. They are an eclectic group of guests and each of them would appear to have something to hide that they are not comfortable being able to share openly with each other. It is this of course that makes each of them a suspect.
At the end of the play the crimes are solved and the identity of the killer exposed, but the audience is asked not to reveal the identity of the killer to anyone outside of the theatre so as to keep the suspense and not spoil the play for future audiences.
The small cast of just eight characters each brought a different dynamic to the stage, and they played off each other perfectly. The set design was fantastic. The whole play was set in the beautifully ornate Great Hall of Monkswell Manor and through the large windows snow could be seen to be falling. The attention to details such as this is what make this play the phenomenal success that it is.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, a West End quality production, brilliant storytelling and storyline. I’ve already recommended this show to my parents and a friend, and would absolutely recommend it for a great evening. It did not disappoint.
The Wyvern Theatre is in the town centre and has several car parks within easy walking distance. The 635 seats (with the exception of rows A-D) are tiered and comfortable, offering great viewing from wherever you may be within the auditorium. The staff and volunteers are friendly and welcoming and the facilities are clean.
The show has a running time of approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes including an interval.
Tickets cost from £25.50 to £34 (booking fees may apply).
The Mousetrap is at the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon from 10-15 February 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit swindontheatres.co.uk or call the box office on 01793 524481.
Wyvern Theatre, Theatre Square, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1 1QN | 01793 524481