Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap produced by John Roads for Crossroads Live Playhouse Theatre, QPAC
Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap produced by John Roads for Crossroads Live
Playhouse Theatre, QPAC
5th-20th November 2022
Dr Gemma Regan
A great testament to the original preserving the anachronistic charm of the original 70 years on
The sinister whistling of the nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice echoes around the hushed theatre while the victim lies strangled in the drawing room. There are seven other people in the boarding house, all have lied and all could be connected. It is up to you to determine the devious murderer using Christie's clues before the final big reveal.
Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is finally touring Australia, with John Roads for Crossroads Live to celebrate its Platinum Jubilee (70th), as the World’s longest-running play. It is a rarely given opportunity for producer John Frost to present an Australian production of the most famous ‘who done it’, and witness the epitome of live English theatre without the need of the dreaded long-haul flights. Frost exclaimed, “We are so excited to present a new production of this enduring and much-loved murder mystery to Australian audiences.”
The Mousetrap originally premiered on the 6th October 1952 at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham before opening at London’s West End at the Ambassadors Theatre. Due to it’s popularity it transferred to the larger St Martin’s Theatre next door in 1974 and with the exception of COVID lockdowns it has clocked up 8 shows a week for seventy years equating to over 28,500 performances!
It is the quintessential ‘who done it’ and the blue-print for all other murder mysteries, even the inspiration for the board game Cluedo. Christie originally wrote it as the radio play Three Blind Mice which was broadcast in 1947 as a birthday present for Queen Mary, before she adapted it into short story and finally into the stage play The Mousetrap. Christie was so sure that it would only have a short theatre-run that she famously stated that no film of it could be produced until at least six months after the West End Production closed, yet remarkably it is still running! The recent film See How They Run avoided the Christie clause by concentrating on the staging of The Mousetrap set in 1953 when somebody is murdered in the wings. Fortunately, it has whetted the appetite for Australians to now know and want to see the play which is now touring Australia.
Director Robyn Nevin, has crafted a skilled and experienced ensemble of actors, all with convincing English accents (which as a pom myself, I consider very important), all with a brilliant knack of comical timing. I have been fortunate to see The Mousetrap many times, twice in the original St Martin’s Theatre and the accents were so authentic I was sure it was the original ensemble on tour.
The well-designed set by Robert Furse, has many doorways and a large window and is based on the 1952 original of the drawing room of Monkswell Manor. Mollie (Annie O’Byrne) and Giles Ralston (Alex Rathgeber) are awaiting their first guests at the remote country guest house when a snowstorm hinders their arrival and causes others to turn up unexpectedly. With eight very diverse characters trapped and isolated in a large house together you could expect some friction, but when there is a murder, everyone has somewhere to point their finger.
Anna O’Byrne, won a Helpmann Award in 2017 as Eliza in My Fair Lady and was convincing as Mollie, the gentle and optimistic young entrepreneur. Alex Rathgeber, playing her husband Giles, is a great match, acting with suave confidence, but with a suspicious underlying current. Each character has their moments; Gerry Connolly uses his witty comic genius to recreate the obnoxious Italian know-it-all, Mr Paravacini. He brought a haunting edge by playing and whistling the sinister nursery tune Three Blind Mice throughout the scenes adding to the tension.
A favourite character was the young off-balanced architect Christopher Wren, played masterfully by Laurence Boxhall. His energy and presence filled the stage when he was acting in a crazy and extroverted manner. Then he would instantly transition to a tormented and fragile childlike character that made you want to tuck him into bed and tell him everything would be okay. Tom Conroy as Detective Sergeant Trotter was also impressive, especially when using his manipulative questioning techniques.
It was fascinating to hear the gasps from the audience as plot twists were revealed. Like all members of the secret club who already know the identity of the killer, it was fun to revel in that knowledge when theories and predictions were overheard in the bar at half time.
This Australian production of The Mousetrap is a great testament to the original preserving the anachronistic charm of the original. As producer John Frost said “With new films and television mini-series based on her books, there has been a resurgence of interest in Agatha Christie’s thrillers, and the novels are selling more than ever. What better time to bring The Mousetrap to Australia as it celebrates its 70th anniversary!”
You must not miss this rare opportunity to witness the master of crime writing at her best and see if you can solve the mystery and identify the murderer. Like the millions who already know who did it, the answer is to be trapped inside like the mouse, and we're not telling!