The Mousetrap: Suspicious minds caught in a trap

(c) David Wardle
(c) David Wardle

Allan Crow on the opening night of a classic British play as it comes to Fife for very first time ...

It’s a 60-year old whodunnit that shows no signs of even contemplating taking its curtain call.

Agatha Christie’s crime thrillers may seem slightly twee when stacked against the work of today’s leading crime authors, but the reason it endures is down to the sheer quality of her writing.

Originally presented for Queen Mary on her 80th birthday in 1947, ‘The Mousetrap’ has been part of the West End longer than any other show. For that alone, it deserves our respect and admiration.

The current touring production has enjoyed good reviews, and it’s easy to see why. This is as traditional as theatre gets in Britain - so traditional you almost feel as though it should be shown in black and white.

The story centres on a country house filled with guests all caught in a snowstorm. They are all strangers thrown together by circumstance ...ah, or are they?

There has been a murder and one of them is linked to the terrible deed and is in peril.

Is it Major Metcalf or Miss Casewell? Is it Mrs Boyle, the old biddy with very firm opinions of everything and about everyone, or the “rather peculiar” Christopher Wren a rather eccentric and frightfully excitable young architect?

Or is it the even hosts, the Ralstons?

And what about the mysterious Mr Paravicini who tuns up announced after claiming his Rolls Royce hit a snowdrift. Ah that old gag ...

Part one introduces all the characters and sets the scene, the curtain falling ending with an ear piercing shriek as a body is discovered. As Taggart would observe, there has been a mur-dur...

Part two is the whodunnit ... and the why-they-dunnit, and it is the sharper of the two as Christie’s script chucks in red herrings galore, and switches the spotlight from character to character with the lightest of touches.

The cast are all excellent, and know the show, and their characters, inside out.

Karl Howman revels in the role of the mysterious foreign guest, while Ryan Saunders adds a touch of delightful eccentricity, and gets his share of the laughs, as young Mr Wren.

At the end of the show, the audience is asked not to reveal whodunnit, thereby sharing the magic of ‘The Mousetrap’, and, of course, becoming its partners in crime in more ways than one.

It is traditional theatre perfectly executed by a solid cast - and it is great fun.

I guess it’s the sort of show you only see once, hence the plea from the stage not to reveal the ending, so I won’t.

It’s the first time ‘The Mousetrap’ has come to Fife so go see a very special piece of theatre lest it takes another 60 years to return.

And I suspect it’ll still be playing to audiences then ...