Monday, January 5, 2009

Agatha Christie The Mousetrap review - St. Martin's theatre


"World's longest ever run" was the tagline boast for Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap" at St. Martin theatre just off Covent Garden. In fact, the mystery thriller has been running for the last 57 years and is older than most of its patrons these days.

The surprising thing is that unlike most West End plays, The Mousetrap hardly ever advertises. If it did at all, it certainly wasn't apparent to me. In fact, there was no discount for the tickets at Leicester Square's TKTS and one would have to pay a £2.50 admin charge if you were to purchase the (stall) tickets over there. So we resorted to getting ours directly from St. Martin theatre's box office.

As a billboard opposite the box office proudly proclaimed, the play has been performed 23,375 times and that got us doubly excited to be watching its 23,376th performance. After such a prolonged successful run, surely it's well worth the £36 stall ticket.

The play, set in a Monkswell Manor, started promisingly with a couple who was starting a guesthouse service in the manor inherited by the wife. The English manor setting with a fireplace, textiled sofas, a genuine oak table, with doors leading to a drawing room, the dining room and even a staircase to the bedrooms upstairs - a perfect setup for a Cluedo style who-killed-who thriller.
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Sure enough, as the guests turned up one by one, the audience couldn't help but feel that there was something fishy about each of the characters. The fact that an unexpected guest turned up when his car overturned (or so he claimed) added to the mystic of it all.

The+Mousetrap+Agatha+Christie+St+Martin+Theatre+LondonEvents gathered momentum when a murder in London (which is a mere 12 miles away) led the police to believe that the murderer might be within the manor with unfinished business. A Sergeant, sent by the nearby police station, arrived to save the day. But with the telephone line cut and the manor snowed in, could he prevent another gruesome murder?

While the plot carries the signature of Agatha Christie, I couldn't help feel that the pace could have been a tad more dramatic. With a fix set of props with no changes done during the 15min intermission, it got a bit dull and tedious towards the end of the play when the identity of the murder became obvious.

The Mousetrap is one of those plays that emphasized on the dialogue rather than visual effects. Audience expecting a heart stopping mystery would be better off watching Woman in Black. Those expecting any sense of humour should instead look towards The 39 Steps. It's definitely not one of those plays that you should catch if you have only a week in London.

That made me wonder why it has been running for the last 57 years. Why not see for yourself and book your tickets here. While you are at it, why not check out Agatha Christie's original work here?

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Emm said...

Oh no! It sounds a bit disappointing. Would you recommend 39 Steps then?

C K said...

Oh, definitely! It's one of those play that'll cheer you on during this miserable winter.

Were you caught by the snow on your way out this morning?

Martin in Bulgaria said...

Join the Mousetrap gand Emm. I went to see it when I was 12 years old, my first visit to a theatre, that was back in 1970. I enjoyed it then and still remember the plot well.

*lynne* said...

A long time ago, I remember that my family went to watch this at this theatre... even then tickets were expensive by Ringgit standards, so we got the birds eye seats... I was a young teenager then, I think... don't remember anything about the play or whodunnit.

I have been thinking about picking up an Agatha Christie book again, to see if as an adult I'd pick up on clues well before it was all explained by Poirot...

Dori said...

I have really been into Agatha Christie lately. Maybe I'll catch one of these performances.

Dutchie said...

I thought the title sounds familiar n it took me 3 evenings to dig out the book in the attic *Phew* - but I got it, it's in dutch n I must hv read it years ago coz I hv no clue abt the plot now. Must hv another read.

Most people said that a book has more essence than a theatre or film production. What do u think ?

I hv seen the da vinci code on TV which was disappointing after all the buzz abt it being a super thriller. Hubby absent-mindedly left the book at some airport after he read it. Don't think I want to fork out another 25 euro to find out !

Emm said...

Well, Martin, I'll have to take your advice then. I think I'll go see 39 Steps first but I won't write off Mousetrap completely!

Certpaper said...

Nice work man..keep it up.

::karinuslai:: said...

It's running because the Mousetrap is Christie's most famous play and the only reason the current staging isn't worth watching is because the cast aren't particularly good.