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Review: The Mousetrap, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

AGATHA Christie’s classic The Mousetrap is playing at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre as part of a national 70th anniversary tour.

It's hard to imagine a more quintessentially British drama, which is played out on a stormy night in a remote Berkshire Manor House. The captivating whodunit crime thriller was first staged in 1952 at St. Martin’s Theatre in London where the play continues to be performed after reopening following the pandemic. Over the years the venue has staged more than 30,000 performances and sold over 10 million tickets.

Hailed as a genre-defining murder mystery written by the best-selling novelist of all time, The Mousetrap will be on stage in Southampton until 4th March.

The Mousetrap was first staged in 1952 (picture: Matt Crockett)
The Mousetrap was first staged in 1952 (picture: Matt Crockett)

All action takes place on a single set, which is masterfully designed with various entry and exit points to represent the substantial lounge of Monkswell Manor Guest House. Special effects such as rattling windows revealing blizzard-like conditions outside help set the scene for an evening of mystery and murder.

Complete with a roaring fire and a collection of excellent props, the set really does feel like the interior of a period property, with the bleak conditions and sense of isolation further portrayed as the eccentric characters arrive covered in snow.

The plot of The Mousetrap is fairly straightforward: a murder has taken place in London around 30 miles from the manor house, and police have reason to believe the perpetrator is about to strike again.

A police sergeant is dispatched and, on arrival at the property, he reveals to the group of seven strangers assembled that one is the killer and another is likely to be the next victim.

As he begins to interrogate the party one by one, and past truths are revealed, it becomes clear that nothing is quiet as it seems. The plot twists and turns as each character is scrutinised and the sergeant works hard to identify the killer in their midst.

Joelle Dyson is superb as lady of the house Mollie Ralston who struggles to maintain a brave face while battling secrets from her past, and alongside her Laurence Pears fits the bill perfectly as her devoted husband Giles.

Elliot Clay is full of energy and excitement as the irrepressible Christopher Wren demonstrating superb comic timing and heaps of character. Kieran Brown also injects many humorous moments as the mysterious Mediterranean character Mr Paravicini, who seems completely unconcerned by the sinister goings on around him.

Joseph Reed is superb in the role of super sleuth policeman Sergeant Trotter as he presses the characters to reveal more about themselves and their pasts them they ever intended to.

Completing the strong cast with equally engaging performances are: Essie Barrow as Miss Casewell and Gwyneth Strong as Mrs Boyle.

Without giving away the ending, the clever story in which everyone is a suspect really does keep you guessing until the closing moments of the play. With murder, mystery and intrigue, The Mousetrap is a slice of British history that remains as entertaining today as it was seven decades ago.

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