The world’s longest running play must have something about it – and visitors to The Regent Theatre got to see that first hand this week when The Mousetrap stopped by on its 70th anniversary tour.
In short, The Mousetrap is excellent. Anyone with more than a passing interest in theatre is sure to be familiar with the play that is famed as the West End’s longest running show, where it has been a fixture since 1952.
Written by Agatha Christie, suspense, intrigue and richly characterised suspects are a given in this classic murder mystery.
Centred on the guests at a newly opened guest house, the play opens to news of a murder in London but the circle of suspicion soon moves closer to home as it becomes clear that a murderer could be in their midst.
Brilliantly acted, within the intimate confines of the guesthouse reception, the play is gripping from the off. The dialogue moves at a pace, keeping the suspense high for those unfamiliar with the outcome while the diverse cast of characters is endlessly entertaining.
For a play that is so dialogue-focused and set in a singular location, it demands the attention of the audience, keeping everyone’s rapt attention from start to finish. While a large part of this is down to the quality of the writing it is also testament to the standard of acting on display.
Holding it all together as the warm-hearted guest house owner, Joelle Dyson is excellent as Mollie Ralston capturing the almost calm but certainly nervous demeanour, while Laurence Pears is brilliantly awkward as the husband who doesn’t really want to run a guest house.
While billing is shared fairly equally amongst the seven occupants of the guest house, Detective Sergeant Trotter is at the centre of the action for much of the play. Joseph Reed’s lively and animated performance as the likable police officer keeps the audience focused, setting the pace of the play.
Two members of the cast are well known faces from the screen, with Eastenders’ Todd Carty as Major Metcalfe and Only Fools and Horses’ Gwyneth Strong as Mrs Boyle. Both are a joy to watch. Carty’s bumbling major is genuinely comic, while Strong is superb as the unlikeable, snooty sourpuss Mrs Boyle.
Elliot Clay plays for laughs as overgrown child Christopher Wren, balancing this well with the character’s fragile nature. More humour is delivered courtesy of Kieran Brown as Mr Paravicini delighting the audience with his slightly hammy portrayal of the mysterious traveller, while Essie Barrow is equally engaging as the aloof Miss Casewell.
With these finely tuned characters bouncing off each other to keep the script moving along and making sure the audience is hanging off every word and exchange, The Mousetrap does indeed trap you in, pulling the audience into the scene that unfolds at the guest house for the ultimate guessing game.
A brilliant story, richly delivered by quality performances The Mousetrap is a must see for theatre fans – and armchair sleuths who love a good murder mystery. Solve the mystery for yourself – watch The Mousetrap at The Regent until Saturday, April 8. Book you tickets online at The Regent.