Mousetrap Critics & Reviews
Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap has been on the stage as long as the Queen has been on the throne. Half a century ago, it opened in the West End on 25th November 1952, which means it has been running for 59 years making it the world’s longest running play - an astonishing accomplishment for any play and one that the producers are rightly proud of. The play has been seen by more than 10 million people, been performed in 45 countries around the world and been translated into 24 languages. Doubtless, The Mousetrap is a little piece of history.
So what is the show’s success?
Agatha Christie’s fame has played its part in this show’s achievement. In the 1950’s, Christie’s books were regularly in the top sellers’ list. It was hardly unexpected that a play, which has never been published or turned into a movie or TV program, should draw ardent admirers. Since that preliminary eagerness the show has now become one of the ‘elementary things to do’ on many a tourists to-do list - go to Buckingham Palace, visit the Tower of London and see ‘The Mousetrap’.
The play, set in a Monkswell Manor, begins auspiciously with a newly married young couple who has started a guesthouse service in the ramshackle old Manor inherited by the wife. Enter a peculiar hodgepodge of characters for the opening weekend of business, followed quickly by a heavy blizzard which leaves all stranded and infuriated. Moods sour further when a skiing police sergeant shows up and reveals that there is a murderer amongst them - one who has already struck once and has designs on two of them. But how are they all connected? Who is the murderer and who the next victim? How well do they all know each other anyway, even the happy couple? The English Manor setting with a fireplace, sofas, an authentic oak table, with doors leading to a drawing room, the dining room and even a staircase to the bedrooms upstairs – is a perfect setup for a Cluedo style who-killed-who thriller.
Like any good murder mystery, Mousetrap is full of culpable characters, each just as guilty as the others. The play is also known for its twist ending. By tradition, at the end of each performance, audiences are asked not to reveal the identity of the killer to anyone outside the theatre, to ensure that the end of the play is not spoiled for future audiences. Christie was always upset by the plots of her works being revealed in reviews.
The Mousetrap is one of those plays that emphasized on the dialogue rather than visual effects. The play has also made theatrical history by having an original "cast member" survive all the cast changes since its opening night. The late Deryck Guyler can still be heard, via a recording, reading the radio news bulletin in the play to this present day. The set has been changed in 1965 and 1999, but one prop survives from the original opening – the clock which sits on the mantelpiece of the fire in the main hall.
So if you want to find out whodunit, you'll have to go. It's not the most breathtaking evening but that may be a small price to pay to become a part of the history.
St Martin's Theatre
West Street, London, WC2H 9NZ
VIEW SEATING PLAN
Access description: 3 shallow steps up from the pavement through double swing doors into the foyer. Box Office counter to left. Staircases have handrails on both sides. Steps are highlighted. 5 steps to the back of the Dress Circle and 2 steps between rows. 29 steps down to front of Stalls. Theatre open 30 mins before performance. Access Guides available on request.
Sound Amplification: Infra-red systems. You will be asked for a deposit. Please book in advance.
Guide Dogs: Guide dogs are allowed in the auditorium or staff will dog-sit by prior arrangement with the management. Dogs will be looked after in the Manager’s office.
Disabled Access: There is 1 space for wheelchair users in Box C at Dress Circle level and 1 wheelchair space in the Dress Circle. Removable ramp up 5 steps to Box C and Dress Circle – staff will assist. Your wheelchair will be raised on a small platform to enable you to see over the parapet. Your companion can be seated next to you. Transfer possible to aisle seats in the Dress Circle – wheelchairs stored in Royal Room corridor. For the sake of Health & Safety it is advisable for wheelchair users to bring an able-bodied companion with them.
Toilets: Toilets located a few steps up from back of Stalls, at Dress Circle and at Upper Circle. An additional Ladies' toilet is situated off the foyer.
Disabled Toilets: Adapted toilet outside Box C in the Dress Circle