The Mousetrap Review: No spoilers here!

[All images courtesy of the The Alhambra Theatre] 


The Ralstons (Giles and Mollie played by Mark Homer and Esther McAuley) are newcomers to the guest house trade and certainly have a baptism of fire with their first intake of guests. The scene is set with a horrible murder signified both by chilling sound effects and an announcement over the archaic transistor radio. Well, this is a whodunit!

But with perfect irony, as the characters enter the sumptuous set replete with period paintings and fine furnishings, the description of the suspect is fitted by practically all and sundry. This isn’t going to be an obvious one to solve for us audience sleuths (though I did get it right with my hazardous interval guess!)




So the first night at the guest house, a snowy blizzard outside, allows Christie to bring in her brilliantly crafted characters in one by one – and what a bunch! There is Christopher Wren (Edward Elgood), a zany eccentric childish chap with a stage presence as loud as his gratingly shrill speech; Mrs Boyle (Anne Kavanagh), a fussy spiteful old bat of a lady with a penchant for continual complaints; Major Metcalf (William Ilkley), an ex-military man always lending a helping hand and exploring the antiquarian accommodation; Miss Casewell (Hester Arden), a cross-dressing radical with a mischievous bent; and finally the uninvited guest Mr Paravacini (Jonathan Sidgwick), a wind-up merchant if ever there was one and perfect red herring (or is this a double bluff?!)

And so we have seven characters, all cut off by the snow, in a scene that is a kind of dumbed down version of French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre’s Hell or a crime version of TS Eliot’s The Cocktail Party. So we are in the perfect situation to examine each of the character’s personalities, both external and latent, who become the suspects of a murder mystery investigation when Sgt Trotter (Luke Jenkins) braves the inclement weather to visit the already tension-fraught establishment.




What really makes Christie’s classic crime caper remarkable is the sustained sense of suspense combined skilfully with dry humour. The ensemble performance is flawless, the lighting design by Peter Vaughan Clarke is most noteworthy (complex but effective) and Richard Carter’s sound design adds an intrigue and depth to the proceedings (quite hauntingly enough to create an annoying earworm!)

You don’t have to be a Christie or even a classic crime fan to enjoy this compelling production that will keep you guessing right until the denouement. And then we are advised to keep the identity of the villain in our hearts – so no spoilers here!

Reviewed at the Alhambra Theatre, 27 July, where it runs till 1st August.

Rich Jevons