mouse cast

Pictures: Matt Crockett  

The Mousetrap

70th Anniversary Tour

Lichfield Garrick


Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap holds the record for the world’s longest running play, having had its world premiere at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham in October 1952.

Following a short regional tour it opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End on 25 November 1952, remaining there for 22 years until it moved next door to St Martin’s Theatre in March 1974 and where it has remained ever since, only closing its doors due to the Covid Pandemic and it was the first production to reopen.

The Mousetrap is without a doubt the most famous whodunit in history. The play is based on a 30-minutevBBC radio drama which Christie called Three Blind Mice and was written as a gift for Queen Mary’s 80th birthday.

Who would have thought that the play would still be running after 70 years? Certainly not Agatha Christie or the original producer, Peter Saunders who were not at all hopeful and had not expected it to last more than a few months.

The play has now been seen by more than 10 million people in London alone with audiences from across the globe ticking it off as one of the “must see” things to do in London, up there with Buckingham Palace and Big Ben and to celebrate an incredible 70 years on stage the production has embarked on a UK anniversary tour, arriving at Lichfield Garrick in all its glory.

The action begins on a snowy evening in the great hall of Monkswell Manor, a remote countryside guest house, thirty miles from London. The set is nothing short of exquisite, with wood panelled walls, stained glass windows, chintz furniture, a roaring fire and flickering lighting all serving to create the perfect atmosphere for an evening of murder mystery and exactly what you would expect in terms of the grandeur and style of the period with a series of doors providing the necessary entrances and escape routes for a prospective murderer!


Joelle Dyson as Mollie Ralston

A special mention for the suspenseful music chosen for the production which just screamed  Agatha Christie and complimented the ambience of the piece perfectly. The addition of the nursery rhyme, Three Blind Mice both whistled and on the piano (one key at a time) was eerie and spine chilling.

The story begins with a news report over the wireless, confirming the murder of Maureen Lyon in London, who we later learn was recently released from prison following a conviction for child cruelty. Newlyweds, Mollie and Giles Ralston played by Joelle Dyson and understudy; Nicholas Maude are all set to welcome their first set of guests in what is the launch for Monkswell Manor as a guest house.

Both give solid performances, with Dyson trying to keep everything together as the inexperienced landlady, seemingly hiding a secret of her own and Maude as the devoted and protective husband, struggling to hide his dislike for most of the guests and certain he knows the identity of the killer. The pair worked well together and as the play moves on both find themselves questioning how much they really know about the other.

The first guest to arrive is architect, Christopher Wren (Elliot Clay) or so we are led to believe. This is an excellent performance from Clay who fizzled with energy from his first entrance and the audience warmed to him straight away. He gives us a childlike, hyperactive young man that is flamboyant, camp and altogether quite strange but beneath it all there is a genuine vulnerability.

He is swiftly joined by fellow guests Mrs Boyle (Gwyneth Strong) and Major Metcalf (Todd Carty) who are both household names, best known for their TV roles as Cassandra (Only Fools and Horses) and Tucker (Grange Hill), Mark Fowler (Eastenders) and PC Gabriel Kent (The Bill).

Strong is the stuffy and sharp-tongued Mrs Boyle, that nit-picks from the moment she arrives, rubs everyone up the wrong way and is instantly dislikeable.

Carty is the opposite, giving us a likeable, helpful and friendly Major Metcalf with the typical characteristics of an old British Army Major, with plum English accent and notable walk.

Enter Miss Casewell, a stand-offish 24-year-old who has arrived from a brief hotel stay in Kensington and has been living in Majorca since she was a teen. It is a brisk and masculine performance from Essie Barrow, with an air of intrigue as she also has a dark secret she is keeping under wraps.

Mr Paravicini is the dark and mysterious, unexpected guest  who arrives with a tale of an overturned Rolls Royce that he has left abandoned in the snow. Understudy, Stephen Bowen gives a humorous performance, complete with dodgy accent and mockery for his fellow guests and their British ways.


Todd Carty as Major Metcalf

The phone lines have been cut, they’re snowed in and every one of them is a suspect. And of course, no murder mystery would be complete without someone to solve it and arriving in comedy style on skis is the final member of the cast, Detective Sergeant Trotter. It is a fine performance from Joseph Reed who is utterly believable in the role, interrogating every guest in an attempt to uncover the identity of the killer (speaking of which my lips are sealed).

Having never seen The Mousetrap, my expectations were high. After all, this iconic play is in its 70th year and so there must be a reason why it keeps selling tickets year in, year out. However, I wasn’t quite on the edge of my seat and found myself feeling a bit underwhelmed as the play unfolded with a lack of pace. Yes, there are twists and turns as the various backstories and secrets are eventually revealed, but with only one murder at the guest house until we reached the final climax it just felt like it took a while to get there and for me it is not as thrilling as some of Christie’s other titles.

That being said, it is an entertaining evening of mystery from a great ensemble cast, a slice of British theatre history and a “bucket list” title for any theatre goer and I’m glad I saw it. If you are an Agatha Christie fan then it is a must see, especially when it’s right on your doorstep. To 01-04-23

Emily Whitehead


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