#2016WRITE – The Mousetrap Review

You may know I’ve set a few intentions about writing more. Well, you’ll be pleased to know I’ve signed up for a writing course!

Young Reviewers at The Lighthouse Poole.

Turns out you don’t have to be all that young to take part!

Over the course of 4 months I’ll go to a bunch of plays/dance shows/live music events and have sessions with various industry professionals learning how to review something well.

Last Saturday we got together and saw The Mousetrap (an Agatha Christie Classic) with theatre reviewers Paul London and Johnny Fox. Paul and Johnny told us some of their tips re. getting published and out of the box approaches to reviewing… though their take away message was:

“Theatre Reviewing is the perfect hobby because it pays for itself. Just don’t expect it to pay for anything else… like rent, bills or food.”

Fair enough, I’m in it for culture anyway!

I’ve just finished my review of The Mousetrap… So here it is, just for you.

The Mousetrap - Agatha Christie

On a fairly nippy Saturday afternoon, I joined a new club. The automatic membership to the ‘Do Not Tell Anyone “Who did it” in Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap Club’ comes with heavy responsibility, a heavy responsibility that anyone who is part of the ‘What’s the Deal with The Sixth Sense Club’ will understand.

The Mousetrap, which has the warm familiarity of any Agatha Christie story, is a classic – thanks to its claim of being the longest running play in the history of British theatre. 

The story, unsurprisingly, is about murder.  A vicious killer is on the loose after strangling a woman in London and now he or she is heading to the very-well-to-do hotel where a group of unwitting potential victims stay. Potential victims whose pasts are connected in some way, not that they know it yet, to the murderer… A murderer who may well be in their midst. A snowstorm hits and everyone is trapped in the hotel: the secrets come out and the mystery starts to unravel.

The play could be told in a dark and frightening fashion – you won’t be able to listen to the children’s nursery rhyme 3 Blind Mice in the same way again – but instead the style provides an easy watching performance that had the audience chuckling throughout.

The characters, already quite stereotypical to Christie, have been caricatured. The matron, Mrs Boyle, is fierce and not to be messed with. The newly married Mr & Mrs Rolston are sweet and doting. The young and artistic Christopher Wren is terribly flamboyant. The stand-offish socialist, Miss Casewell, stands tall and proud in her trouser suit. The mysterious foreigner, Mr Paravicini is outrageously flirtatious. Retired Major Metcalf, is the fatherly protector with a war story in hand.

It was comedic Christopher Wren, played by Oliver Gully, that set the tone for the play.

Wren’s entrance was loud and magnificent, his vowels long and drawn out and his daft, child like love for the macabre – along with Mrs Boyle’s ability to be wound up and Mr Rolston’s sarcastic comments – meant that even the most serious scenes would illicit a snigger from the audience, thanks to the repartee between this clearly incompatible group stuck in a snowstorm together.

Yes, there is suspense. We, the audience, rippled in empathy when the characters stubbornly refuse to aid a clearly frustrated (and shouty) Sergeant Trotter in his investigation (“If you don’t share what you know and one of you dies, well you’ve only got yourself to blame!”) and there was definitely an audible gasp when the killer was revealed.

But after a few moments of anguish once the killer is caught, bizarrely, everything returns to life as normal for our characters. Perhaps it’s the indomitable, plucky English spirit and its ability to buck up and carry on; come rain, shine or murder.

So I suppose you would like to know the following:

Is it worth going to see? All in all, yes.

Is it worth the money?  I think so. (Disclaimer: I got my ticket as part of the Young Reviewers course at The Lighthouse Theatre, so I don’t actually know how much it cost!)

Would I be happy to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon in my local theatre watching it? The theatre was packed and everyone seemed to come out happy, so I think that’s a pretty good sign.

It’s not the edgiest play in the world and it won’t leave you awake at night thinking about the allegories of the plot, the characters or their relationships. But it is a British classic that will certainly  entertain you for the afternoon.

And you get to join the club.

Now, I wonder if I’ll get a badge…

The Mousetrap is currently touring around the UK. Tour dates can be found at www.mousetrapontour.com.