A celebration of mystery

The cast of The Mousetrap - suspects all. Picture: Helen Maybanks

The Mousetrap

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

****

THE Belgrade welcomes The Mousetrap as part of the Diamond Anniversary Tour – the first time this timeless piece of theatre has hit the sticks.

Agatha Christie herself said this play would last eight months in the West End but it has broken so many records and now after 60 years goes on tour.

It creaks a bit, but even with the whiff of nostalgia, red herrings and moth balls it doesn't disappoint. The doyenne of whodunnits Agatha Christie is as popular as ever and it's basically a brilliant story, engagingly, excellently and entertainingly told. What more could anyone ask?

The story is strangely contemporary. In the wake of the deaths of little Daniel Pelka and other deeply mourned children who have been killed in domestic abuse sagas that we should have civilised ourselves out of by now, the surviving children of Longridge farm that nestles next to the newly opened Monkswell Hall Guest House avenge the death of their little brother at the hands of their cruel adoptive parents.

The leit motif of the nursery rhyme tune Three Blind Mice becomes a haunting refrain as the murderer seeks revenge.

Guests arrive in quick succession during a blizzard at the Edwardian pile, hostess Mollie Ralston (Joanna Croll) and her new husband Giles (Henry Luxemburg): energetic but possibly unbalanced Christopher Wren (Ryan Saunders), annoying and pompous Mrs Boyle (Anne Kavanagh), steady Major Metcalfe (Chris Gilling), and elegant and mysterious young Miss Casewell (Ellie Jacob).

An unexpected guest arrives: Mr Paravacini (Karl Howman) who claims to have rolled his Rolls into a ditch. The phone rings to announce the arrival of the police after a shock murder in London of the adoptive mother of the Longridge Farm children.

Sergeant Trotter (Jonathan Wolf) appears through the window complete with skis at the snowbound hotel. Someone has cut the phone lines. No one is telling anyone of their involvement in anything …but everyone is suspicious of everyone else. And their dwindling respect for each other, the death of annoying Mrs Boyle, under the Sergeant's nose, puts a colossal strain on the household's jangling nerves.

It's clever, compulsive and compelling and of course I'm not saying who dunnit… it's more than my life's worth. Directed by Ian Watt-Smith it runs to 09-11-13.

Jane Howard 

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