I don’t go to the theatre that often. In fact, I think the last time I went was in 1998, when I saw Kevin Spacey in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh at London’s Old Vic. It’s something I enjoy so it was high time I went again. I’d always wanted to see Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. I used to walk past St Martin’s Theatre quite often and see the large lit and unlit sign for the Mousetrap. The Mousetrap is the longest running play in history, having opened in 1952, and is still running: a point of pride for the theatre which keeps a tally of every performance (in its present location) in the foyer. The Mousetrap has been at St Martin’s since 1974 so it’s almost always been there waiting for me to visit.
Another reason for seeing the show is the mystique surrounding it. Ask anyone about the Mousetrap, whether they’ve seen it or not, and they’ll tell you that there’s a twist ending and that at the end of the show the cast ask you to enter into the tradition of keeping the secret of the Mousetrap. Or in today’s parlance, a ‘no spoilers’ request!
So what can i say about the show. Firstly, that it’s a murder mystery, which shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone who knows of Agatha Christie. It started its life in 1947 as a radio play called Three Blind Mice, which turned into a short story, which then morphed into the stage production. When I went to see it there were 27,037 previous performances, so they must be doing something right; that, or we are exemplary at keeping secrets. It’s actually both. The cast were fantastic, especially Simon Haines in the role of the slightly manic yet shy Christopher Wren. It wasn’t until afterwards that I recognised his Alan Partridge-like mannerisms. The show was funnier than I thought it was going to be, care of Wren, and I wondered how the script might have evolved over the 27,000-odd performances. The plot was enjoyable too, though not quite as chilling as I would have liked, having read Christie’s And then there were None. The theatre is wonderful too and you feel transported back in time as you sit back and watch the play unfold.
The show is a great night out and I highly recommend it. I also hope to offer future theatrical recommendations within these pages and within the 20 years it took me to see another West End play!