Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap

The cast of Agatha Christie’s The Moustrap © JOHAN PERSSON

Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap: Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth

There is something extraordinary about this legendary whodunnit from Queen of Crime Agatha Christie. It is old, creaking and anachronistic and yet it packs in the audiences year after year.

Not only is The Mousetrap an unstoppable West End hit which has been delighting theatre-goers for an astonishing 67 years but it now enjoys the same success touring the provinces.

Even though it is far from Christie’s best work there is something endearingly nostalgic about this play. For a start while modern audiences tend to know Christie through TV shows like  Poirot and Miss Marple, cannily updated to appeal to a contemporary(ish) audience, The Mousetrap is firmly stuck in 1952.

You can almost smell the mothballs and furniture polish as the curtain goes up on the impressive country house set. The tale that unfolds is classic whodunnit.  A group of people arrive at a remote country guest house only to find that they are cut off by a blizzard and, guess what, there’s a murderer in their midst.

But who is it? Everyone seems suspicious - the curiously camp young architect, the intense young girl who dresses like a man, the elderly Major, the tweedy old woman who complains about everything and the mysterious Italian.

And what about the young couple who run the place? A police sergeant turns up on skis to investigate but it doesn’t stop the murder of one of the guests.

After endless twists and turns and enough red herrings to launch a fish farm, the culprit is unmasked. Phew!

The most famous face in the cast is Susan Penhaligon probably best remembered by fans of a certain age for setting pulses racing in the seventies in the TV drama Bouquet of Barbed Wire.

Here she is more than 40 years later in The Mousetrap playing Mrs Boyle, the curmudgeonly, crusty old guest who is universally disliked.

Like everyone else in the cast, Penhaligon cranks up the melodrama. The Mousetrap isn’t exactly played for laughs, it’s too precious for that, but it is carefully exaggerated which is enormous and satisfying fun.

*The Mousetrap plays Bournemouth Pavilion until Saturday 10th August.

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2019