mousetrap

The Mousetrap

Lichfield Garrick

***

IT WAS evident from the full auditorium that the attraction of Agatha Christie is still a huge draw for fans of the prolific author and The Mousetrap has to be one of her most popular, recognisable works. By the time of her death in 1976, worldwide sales of her books were exceeded only by The Bible and Shakespeare.

We have old Queen Mary, mother of King George VI to thank for the conception of Christie's famous murder mystery, as the BBC wanted to give Her Majesty a present to celebrate her 80th birthday in May 1947 so, Agatha answered the Royal command and wrote the 30-minute radio drama entitled, Three Blind Mice.

Five years later, it formed the basis of The Mousetrap and thus, theatrical history was born. It's premier in October 1952 at The Theatre Royal Nottingham was followed by runs in Oxford, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds and Birmingham then finally, in November 1952 to the Ambassadors Theatre where it played for 22 years until 1974 when it nipped smartly next door to the St Martin's where the performances still continue 42 years on.

The play, on national tour with this 60th anniversary production, is still a firm favourite with Christie aficionados and Lichfield Garrick proved no exception.

Set in the elaborately wood panelled reception lounge of Monkswell Manor, the opening effect was greatly enhanced by the falling snow, floating gently outside the striking stained glass window. The room was beautifully lit with authentic furnishing and fittings adding a cosy ambience.

        

And so, the action begins with the entrance of Giles Ralston who shakes off the snow from his soft felt hat and long dark overcoat, (a gesture repeated by all of the cast members, except Sgt Trotter who arrives on skis, as they make their entrances from the icy exterior) Could this be an initial 'clue' in the ensuing plot?

Giles, (Nick Barclay) as the recently wedded husband of the house owner, Mollie Ralston, (Anna Andresen) relate the foundations of the scenario of how Mollie inherited the house, and their plan to turn it from a crusty old manor into a thriving guesthouse. They nervously await their first batch of guests, discussing who should occupy the various bedrooms.

Mrs Boyle, (Louise Jameson), Major Metcalf, (Tony Boncza), Mr Paravicini, (Gregory Cox), Miss Casewell, (Amy Downham), and Christopher Wren, (Oliver Gully) arrive as the guests, with the addition of Sgt Trotter, (Lewis Collier) completing the ensemble.

Rather confused as to the wardrobe selection as some characters wore garments that were definitely not of the period, others were of the time but, the overall feel didn't transport you to the suggested era.

No secrets to give away regarding the outcome of the contrived plot which was oft slow and lacked sparkle, but, the odd injection of humour lightened the proceedings somewhat. One can imagine, 'back in the day' that audiences would have found the play exciting, and perhaps even shocking, but after 60 years I am wondering what the attraction this piece offers. Is it possibly the fact that it is simply famous for being famous?

No doubt it will continue to delight audiences for possibly another six decades, but , an old play has to be very special not to feel dated in performance. One only has to think of The Bard in this regard. Good effort, but not one I would wish to see again. To 09-04-16.

Elizabeth M Smith

04-04-16 

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