Written by Agatha Christie, directed by Robyn Nevin
Reviewed by Tessa Miles
Theatre Royal, Sydney
8 October 2022 – 30 October
Images credit: Brian Geach
Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, a staple show of theatre, and the longest-running play on London’s The West End, has graced Australian audiences with its National Tour coinciding with the play’s 70th anniversary. The play, which has just opened at Sydney’s Theatre Royal, is a classic “Whodunnit” play that has audiences on the edge of their seats.
Set in a guest house on the British countryside, five unsuspecting guests and the young couple who are hosting them are thrust into the middle of the murder mystery when a policeman phones to announce his imminent arrival. But this is not your classic game of Cluedo. The audience are kept questioning their choice of suspects, their connection to the location as well as the police’s suspected murderer as new pieces of information are revealed about each of these weird and wonderful characters. Is it the young, quirky man? The retired magistrate? The mysterious young women visiting from abroad or the eccentric Italian who showed up out of the blue?
The entirety of the play takes place in one room: the living room of the guest house, with the characters coming and going to different rooms offstage via doors and a staircase throughout the house. The set is what you would imagine a quintessential British manor to be; wooden panelled walls with decorative carvings, a large inviting fireplace, vast windows with embellished stain glassed designs allowing the outside snow to create the tensity of trapping the guest and hosts inside. The chairs in the living room, enough for all the characters, are mismatched adding to the character of the room.
The cast are made up of accomplished Australian actors including Anna O’Byrne (Mollie Rolston), Alex Rathgeber (Giles Ralston), Laurence Boxhall (Christopher Wren), Geraldine Turner (Mrs Boyle), Adam Murphy (Major Metcalf), Charlotte Friels (Miss Casewell), Gerry Connolly (Mr Paravacini), and Tom Conroy (Detective Sergeant Trotter). Each bring great dimensions to their characters, adding to the intensity of the murder mystery. Standout performances from the cast were Laurence Boxhall as Christopher Wren with his impeccable comedic timing and Gerry Connolly as Mr Paravacini with his perfected Italian accent and equally as fantastic comedy skills.
A truly well-crafted murder mystery…please don’t spoil the mystery!
While Mousetrap may be one of The West End’s longest running shows, it is made quite clear of its age with the slow pacing and sometimes dead quiet moments and empty stage. The use of the curtain closing several times illustrated the end of a scene and added to the overall nostalgic feel. However, the wonderful twists and turns, red herrings and clever use of a nursery rhyme still managed to highlight Christie’s enduring, genius writing.
For the true crime and murder mystery lovers out there, Mousetrap is the best way to spend an evening immersing yourself in a classic and timeless play that has withstood time to become the success of the West End. It even outlasted Christie’s original prediction that the play would only run for 8 months.
A truly well-crafted murder mystery that has kept millions of theatregoers teetering on their seats for decades. Come for the murder and stay for the multiple twists and keep the mystery locked up close as the actors beg of you, please don’t spoil the mystery!
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Book by AGATHA CHRISTIE
Directed by ROBYN NEVIN
Costume Designer & Associate Set Designer ISABEL HUDSON
Technical Director FRANK HARLOW
Executive Producer BERNADETTE HAYES
Lighting Designer TRUDY DALGLEISH
Associate Director CHRIS PARKER
Theatre Royal, Sydney – 8 October 2022 – 30 October 2022
The Playhouse QPAC, Brisbane – 4 November 2022 – 20 November 2022
Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide – 31 December 2022 – 15 January 2023
Comedy Theatre, Melbourne – 17 February 2023 – 26 March 2023