It’s strange to think that 60 years ago, Agatha Christie’s play ‘The Mousetrap’ was performed for the first time.
And now, all these years later it’s still going strong with performances in London’s West End and for this golden jubilee year a special touring production that’s venturing outwith the capital.
So much has changed over the last 10 decades, but in the world of ‘The Mousetrap’ all remains the same.
It’s still a classic murder mystery tale that keeps the audience guessing until the very end.
From Monday, the world’s longest running stage show comes to the Kingdom for a week long run at the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline.
To celebrate the show’s Fife debut, cast members Karl Howman and Henry Luxemburg took time out from their busy schedules to speak to the Press.
Karl plays Mr Paravicini in the play, while Henry is Giles Ralston, owner of the guest house where the mystery takes place. Both are excited to be coming to Dunfermline for the first time.
Karl, well known as Jacko in Brush Strokes, said: “It’s a new one for me. I’ve not played Dunfermline before. I played in Glasgow and Edinburgh last year and I did a big series called ‘Bad Boys’ in Glasgow for the BBC and was up there for six months. So it’s like going home to Scotland.”
The Mousetrap was first performed at The Ambassadors Theatre on November 25, 1952 and it sets a new world record every day for the number of performances.
Originally Richard Attenborough and his fellow film-star and wife Sheila Sim took the leading roles.
Over the years there have been 396 actors and actresses appearing in the play and it’s been presented in 27 different languages in more than 50 countries.
So how does it feel to be part of such an iconic show?
Henry said: “It’s exciting, it’s nice to be in a show that sells so well and packs out theatres and we have been adding extra matinees, here there and everywhere. I think it’s a good production.”
“It’s funny, you do feel pleased to have done it,” continued Karl.
“I wasn’t sure at first going in to something as iconic as this. Are you going to be able to do a good job? How are people outside London going to take it?
“There was no need to worry, audiences have packed out theatres. It’s been fantastic. It’s reach has been wonderful.
“It attracts a certain audience of a certain age group and they go away happy.
“The demographic of people that haven’t been looked after with young musicals, like ‘Legally Blonde’, as good as they are, let an Agatha Chrisite wash over them.
“You hear them chatting and trying to work out among themselves who did it.”
To have lasted in theatres for so long and to have gained four entries in the Guinness Book of Records including ‘longest continous run of any show in the world’, ‘most durable actor’ (David Raven) and ‘longest serving understudy’ (Nancy Seabrooke) there must be something extremely special about the play for it to still be popular today.
“It is very much of its time and it’s a nostalgia piece, you can’t update it,” explains Karl.
“You can’t bring in mobile phones or computers as then the whole plot collapses.
“I think it’s the love of Christie, she’s an iconic brand and with Marple and Poirot it’s brought her work to everyone. It’s an Agatha Christie thriller and most people are kept guessing right to the end.
“It’s not a blood bath and it’s a good watch.”
Henry, who has appeared in Hollyoaks, Dr Who and Hotel Babylon, added: “Ultimately it’s a very good story and it’s an exciting story and interesting story and it keeps people on the edge of their seat.”
Playing a part in such a prestigious piece of theatre must have it’s pressures. Have the pair brought their own slant to their characters?
“Absolutely, it’s been running for 60 years and each cast brings something new,” Henry said.
“I’ve never been one to replicate something someone else has done.”
And his thoughts are echoed by his colleague.
Karl said: “I’d never seen it. I went in and brought my own representations to who I think he is and his motivations.”
Karl plays his cards close to his chest and reveals little about Mr Paravicini during our chat.
“She [Agatha Christie] doesn’t give a lot in the play and you have to work it out yourself. You’re never sure if anyone is telling the truth or not. You are as much in the dark as the character and the audience are.”
Speaking of his character Henry added: “Giles Ralston owns the guest house with his wife Mollie.
“It’s the first night that it’s been open and Mollie is running around making sure everything is ready. Giles is more relaxed and we get the impression it’s probably his wife’s idea, but he supports her.
“I think he is quite an easy going character. He has different shades that you can see.
“I love playing the style and sophistication of the 50s. People held themselves differently, social etiquette was different. I love playing period like that.”
The Mousetrap runs at the Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline from Monday, December 2 to Saturday, December 7.