The Mousetrap at the Theatre Royal Review

Reviewed by Jasmine Crittenden

This year, The Mousetrap, written by Agatha Christie, is in its 70th year on the West End, London (not counting the interruption caused by the pandemic). It’s the longest running play in the world—by a long way. More than 27,500 performances, seen by more than 10 million people and involving more than 400 actors, have taken place.

Key to the play’s success is that it’s a nail-biting murder mystery. Seven travellers become trapped in a guesthouse when a wild snowstorm blows in, blocking every road out. What could go wrong?

Or, rather, what couldn’t?

Australian director Robyn Nevin’s take on the play is faithful to tradition. All the action takes place in the guesthouse’s common room, decked in plush lounges and dim lamps, and warmed by a grand fireplace.

The cast delivers suitably restrained, yet charming, interpretations of the characters, each of which satrises a “type”—idealistic but inexperienced guesthouse owners, Mollie (Anna O’Byrne) and Giles Ralston (Alex Rathgeber); charismatic but unstable Christopher Wren (Laurence Boxhall); brusque and critical Mrs Boyle (Geraldine Turner); thorny and eccentric Miss Casewell (Charlotte Friels, in her professional stage debut); unexpected and rather dramatic European guest Mr Paravicini (Gerry Connolly); militaristic Major Metcalf (Adam Murphy); and helpful but firm Detective Sergeant Trotter (Tom Conroy).

Initially brought together by the weather, these unlikely companions find themselves embroiled in a search for a murderer. As suspense builds, so, too, do personal tensions—giving rise to heated arguments, emotional revelations, witty repartee, and musical performances. Among these, Christie skilfully interweaves subtle commentary on the British class system, the evergreen battle between self-control and passion, and the nature of revenge.

Even after 70 years, the ending is still a secret—not only because of the skill of the writing, but also because audiences the world along have done their bit to keep it quiet.