For the first time this year, it was back to the Churchill Theatre in Bromley for the opening night of the tour of the Longest running play on the West End, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, the ultimate ‘Whodunnit’ since 1952. I was looking forward to seeing if I could crack the case! There will be no spoilers in this review.
Set in a newly converted country house, on opening night a group of strangers are brought together as a snow storm cuts them off. To their horror and appearance of a police officer, a murderer is in their mists. Who is it? One by one the suspicious character start to reveal their sordid past until the last nerve shredding moment the identity and motive are finally revealed.
Like many murder mystery productions the play itself takes a small while to get going with pace, as there are many characters to introduce to the audience – and start the accusations and guessing of who it could be! To me it wasn’t until Act 2 that the pace started picking up and story getting quite intense, although I caught on to a few things within the storyline – I sadly, along with a fair few audience members was incorrect! However, from that alone I can understand why this play is such a hit to the public. You really have to concentrate on the story, focusing a lot on the dialogue to pick up any clues – it was great to see that for once a play had its actor’s mic’d up, something you don’t quite often see but it really helped with hearing everything and you didn’t miss a thing!
The set was very simple, being just the living space of the Old country house. It just added to the tense scenes, accompanying the actors and story very well!
The cast tonight:
Mrs Boyle – Gwyneth Strong
Mr Paravicini – David Alcock
Sgt Trotter – Geoff Arnold
Giles Ralston – Nick Biadon
Christopher Wren – Lewis Chandler
Major Metcalf – John Griffiths
Mollie Ralston – Harriet Hare
Miss Casewell – Saskia Vaigncourt – Strallen
The full cast were excellent at keeping the story going and often misleading at times within the story that would have the audience thinking ‘its him, no its her!’ but at times being completely incorrect! Nick Biadon and Harriet Hare played tonight’s hosts the Ralston’s. Harriet was very strong in her role with some amazing emotions being displayed throughout, where Nick’s love for his wife and to protect her was very well portrayed.
Known mainly from her role in the classic British Comedy Only Fools and Horses, Gwyneth Strong takes on the highly strung Mrs Boyle. Her character was perfect in every way, I am sure that many of us have met in our lifetime a personality like Mrs Boyle that you can tut at but also chuckle to yourself. Her attitude towards Sgt Trotter (no pun intended there!) played by Geoff Arnold – who also was great within his role was entertaining to watch.
Special mention have to go to Lewis Chandler playing Christopher Wren who at first appears as an innocent happy, jovial, silly man goes to a scared, lost and vulnerable man. Lewis excelled within the character, clearly showing the change in Christopher’s personality that had the audience loving him and reaching out to him – similar to Mrs Ralston. This also appeared within the character of Miss Casewell played by Saskia Vaigncourt – Strallen, who at first you see as a strong independent woman breaks down for the audience to see her vulnerable side.
It’s hard to write about this production without the risk of spoilers and having been asked by the officer himself to keep the secret well hidden it is clear that the passion for this play is still alight within the theatre world. Having past its theatre many times in London, I am so glad that I finally got to be part of this mystery and for anyone who loves a bit of crime and puzzle solving this is the perfect play for you!
Playing at the Churchill Theatre until Saturday 16th March, for all ticket information go here. The Mousetrap will then continue on its UK Tour for all dates and ticket information head to their website here.