mouse cast

The Mousetrap

Malvern Theatres


As infamous as Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot is Agatha Christie's other long-lasting creation, The Mousetrap.

It's on the wishlist of any self-respecting crime buff, which partly goes to explain why the murder mystery is the longest running theatre show of any kind in the world.

It was back in post-war 1952 Britain that the whodunnit opened in London's West End at The Ambassadors Theatre. While it can still be caught in London at St Martin's Theatre, The Mousetrap's tour to the regions is reaching out to new audiences.

This 70th Anniversary Tour that started last year reached Malvern Theatres this week and emphasised how the play shows no sign of waning. It's sold out all week and was packed to the rafters, across generations, on opening night.

From the moment you walk into the auditorium, The Mousetrap takes you back to the 1950s with vintage music over the speakers. The set is a lavish recreation of wood panelled rooms in a country mansion turned B&B. Classic Agatha.

Here we find newlyweds Mollie and Giles Ralston (Joelle Dyson and Laurence Pears), who are opening a guest house and about to welcome a cavalcade of characters on a snowy evening. It makes seeing this show in winter a real delight as the snow blizzard cocoons you into the depths of this charming thriller.

Starting off as a radio play before being transferred to stage, there's cleverly plenty of use of the airwaves as a nod to its origins. Over the radio, we hear from the get-go that a manhunt is under way after a brutal murder in London. The game is afoot.

All the characters seem to fit the vague description of a suspect seen running from the scene from the battle axe magistrate Mrs Boyle to old stiff upper lip Major Metcalf and mysterious Italian Mr Paravicini (Kieran Brown), whose car has broken down.

Household names in this suspicious line-up include Gwyneth Strong (Cassandra in Only Fools and Horses) going against type as the rather unlikeable Mrs Boyle and Todd Carty (Mark Fowler in EastEnders), hardly recognisable as Major Metcalf putting on a gloriously plummy upper class accent.

They both seem to revel in this caricature of a mid-century Britain that no longer exists. Joseph Reed gives Det Sgt Trotter plenty of gusto and enthusiasm while Elliot Clay also has plenty of fun playing bonkers guest Christopher Wren. Essie Barrow completes the strong cast as a dour Miss Casewell, who has plenty of secrets - as do they all.

Along with the standard Christie ingredients of suspects, murder, interviews and plenty of red herrings, this play surprises with its constant humour. It's in a similar vein to recent movie See How They Run, which was based around the opening of The Mousetrap.

Despite having a grim topic about child abuse, the play is surprisingly good humoured that at times is a little tongue in cheek. But that never takes away from the essence of the play as a murder mystery.

It's a slick and seamless affair, which is no surprise after seven decades on stage. Even when a murder takes place, the acute timing and manoeuvring gives nothing away of the killer while adding the creepiness of a creaking open door.

The Mousetrap is cosy crime at its best. An intriguing murder mystery with a satisfying revelation that the audience is later urged to take to their grave. So, nestle down, get your little grey cells working and immerse yourself in this conundrum from the Queen of Crime.

Continues until Saturday February 4.

Alison Brinkworth



Todd Carty as Major Metcalf

And a second opinion


The Mousetrap – the quintessential Agatha Christie murder mystery – provides a wonderful evening of classical entertainment. Mid-century, middle class Britain encapsulated in stylised and somewhat caricatured manner, the strange range of characters, the ‘dramatis personae’, are all slightly unbelievable but highly entertaining.

This touring production celebrates the 70th Anniversary of this record-setting play by the Queen of Detective Novels. The mystery and mystique of the play dictates that no audience member is allowed to give away clues and spoilers.

The play is set in a newly established guest house in the countryside near London on a wintry, snowy evening, bringing together, almost imprisoning together, a disparate group of characters who are largely unknown to each other. A murder has occurred in the vicinity and the puzzle is set for us all to solve.

The curtain rises to reveal a beautiful set of panelled wood and magnificent architectural windows. Snow is falling. There are several doors to various parts of the elegant house. Characters appear from all sides, lights come on and go off – yet despite the theme of murder, the unlikely nature of the plot and characters ensures there is no sense of horror – just the puzzle and indeed a fair amount of humour.

The owners of the guest house, the recently married Giles and Molly Ralston, performed by Joelle Dyson and Laurence Pears are perhaps the steadiest and most credible characters. The fluctuations in their relationship are well portrayed.

The most striking character is Mr Paravicini, (Kieran Brown) whose timing and comic performance was very entertaining, even if his Italian accent was not quite perfect!

The Major (Todd Carty) with his tweed jacket, the picky Mrs Boyle (Gwyneth Strong) who sees deficiencies wherever she looks, and the young Miss Casewell (Essie Barrow) are strongly delineated characters.

Most eccentric of all is undoubtedly Christopher Wren, played wildly by Elliot Clay, who prances about and performs odd games to surprise his fellow guests and amuse us all.

Much of the action is stage-managed by Detective Sergeant Trotter, (Joseph Reed) whose surprising arrival and energetic movements and delivery direct the party as he investigates the mysteries.

In the midst of the unravelling of the mystery, there is a brief exploration of the psychological theme of characters striving to run away from their past.

This is a brilliantly constructed piece by Agatha Christie, written for the stage and managing the details of her plot, characters and revelations with consummate skill. It is a great 70th Anniversary production and the auditorium was full and thoroughly responsive. It runs in Malvern till Saturday 4th – catch a ticket if you can!

Tim Crow


On tour including Coventry Belgradee 13-18 Feb, Lichfield Garrick 27 Mar - 1 Apr, and Derby Theatre 17-22 Jul 

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