Darlington Hippodrome – until Saturday 4 May 2019
67 years since it first began, Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap is still going strong and makes a return to Darlington Hippodrome as it continues its tour of the UK.
In order not to give anything away, there is little I can tell you about the show. It begins with a murder in London and ends in Monkswell Manor Guest House.
The curtain opens on a breath-taking set. Wood panelled walls and doors, a massive fireplace, beautifully detailed arches, snow falling outside a large ornate window. This is Monkswell Manor Guest House, newly set up by Mollie and Giles Ralston (Harriet Hare and Nick Biadon) and it is not long before their first set of guests arrive through the blizzard that surrounds the house. Christopher Wren (wonderfully acted by Lewis Chandler) is an eccentric young man who may have hidden depths, Major Metcalfe (John Griffiths) is a retired army man who might have a secret and Mrs Boyle (Gwyneth Strong) is an old battleaxe who has all the best lines but who may also be more than she seems. The group is completed with Miss Casewell (Saskia Vaigncourt-Strallen) and David Alcock as Mr Paravicini, a mysterious foreigner who dispenses regular cryptic comments. Once these characters are efficiently established in a short space of time, the cat is set among the pigeons as Sgt Trotter (Geoff Arnold) arrives with enquiries about a murder that happened earlier that day in London and the fact that at least one of the people in the house is implicated. It would not spoil anything to say that act one ends with the violent death of one of these characters and one of the greatest joys of the evening are the discussions that take place during the interval as to the identity of the murderer.
Originally titled Three Blind Mice, and written in 1952, The Mousetrap is as fresh today as when it was written. Full of Christie’s trademarks with red herrings aplenty and intelligent well rounded characters, you are drawn in from the beginning. And with your little grey cells all working overtime to wonder why someone said this, someone else said that and why that reaction? The fine cast of actors have made the classic characters their own on this tour and the dedication to their craft shows in excellent acting.
As the curtain goes down at the end we are asked not to give away the ending – one of the reasons why this iconic play has managed such longevity. And I’m sure the very packed auditorium at Darlington are more than happy to keep the secret of this first rate play
I would advise you go once to see a fantastic show but if I’m honest I would advise you go twice – the first time to let your mind work over time as you constantly try to work out whodunit and why, and the 2nd time to just to enjoy the pure excellence of the show.
In Darlington until 4 May and on tour around the UK