Muddy theatre review: The Mousetrap
You’ve probably heard of murder mystery The Mousetrap – the world’s biggest theatrical success to date, currently celebrating it’s staggering 60th anniversary year. But have you, like me, ever wondered how it has maintained this massive pulling power – packing in the audiences night after night and still retaining its air of intrigue? Well, now I’ve been to the opening night of the tour’s 6-day run at the Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, I’ve finally learnt the answer. It’s because you get to join The Club. At the end of each performance the audience is asked to keep whodunit secret, and they do. So before I reveal all here, please step forward for your secret hand-shake…
This crime thriller was of course written by Agatha Christie, the most successful female author of all time. With billions of copies sold around the world – her books have only been beaten in popularity by Shakespeare and The Bible – and her plays have proven just as popular. Boy does she know how to craft a plot. Here’s a quick summary:
The play is set in the Great Hall of Monkswell Manor, recently converted to a guesthouse and run by a young couple, Mollie and Giles Ralston. Act 1 opens with the murder of a woman in London, played out in sound only on a dark stage.
Guests start to arrive…they become snowed in together and read of the murder in the newspaper. The police phone to inform the group they believe a murderer is at large and on his way to the hotel. When one of the guests is suddenly killed, they realise the murderer is already there. Dun-dun-dunnnnnn!
So, what to expect? Well, this is not a play about breaking new theatrical boundaries or a showcase for state-of-the-art staging. You’re not gonna find Danielle Radcliffe or Damian Lewis treading the boards and exploring new territories with this production.
It’s a classic, old-school detective story with a solid cast, (I particularly liked the mysterious and moody Miss Casewell as played by Amy Downham, above). The plot trots along nicely, with lots of twists and turns. Everyone seems suspicious on more than one occasion – you know the Agatha C. drill…
For the simple reason that it’s a slice of theatrical tradition this play ought to be on a bucket list of those to go see in your lifetime. What’s more, since it’s touring, the West End has come to our doorstep, meaning we can watch it without the hassle and expense of a trip into London.
And as for the culprit? Well, I could tell you…but then I’d have to kill you. Mwa-ha-ha-ha!!!
7:30pm, (Matinees, Wed & Sat) 2:30pm. Tickets: £28-35. Assembly Hall Theatre, Crescent Rd, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 2LU, Tel: 01892 530613, assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk