I was beyond excited when I discovered that the State Opera House in Wellington was hosting a production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. Needless to say I snapped up a ticket toot sweet and started counting down the days to my Sunday matinee performance. It would, after all, be the first time I attended a performance of a live theatrical play.
My expectation was high and I am so happy to say that I was not disappointed.
It was fantastically enthralling and totally engrossing.
Debuting in London’s West End in 1952 the play is set post WW2 in an english boarding house, Monkswell Manor, where during the course of its first day of business a murder takes place.
In typical Agatha Christie fashion there is a eclectic gathering of suspects who all had opportunity and motive. They all could have committed the dastardly deed and it’s up to you, an audience member, to try to solve the crime at the same time the characters on stage do.
I am not used to live theatre so it took me a few minutes to get used to the format but once I had settled into the flow of it I was hooked. The connection of the onstage action to those watching is immediate and quite different to watching something through a TV or movie screen. I know this is probably quite obvious but it’s not until you experience for yourself that you really understand.
The cast were quite wonderful. A mix of newcomers and accomplished performers all played their parts to perfection and were totally convincing as Giles and Mollie Ralston, Mrs Boyle, Christopher Wren, Miss Cresswell, Mr Paravincini and Detective Sergeant Trotter but my favourite was Major Metcalfe. I laughed on numerous occasions thanks to the Major!
Now I’m no expert but I thought the material they had to work with was good. The story as it unfolded was interesting and surprisingly emotional in parts. At certain points it almost felt like a study in human nature and the emotional responses to tragedy.
There were also some interesting juxtapositions in the staging of the play time wise. While seemingly set firmly in the 1940’s a modern copy of Vogue was being read by one of the characters and music was heard over the wireless that belonged twenty to thirty years in the future. It was very deliberate and I thought made the production all the more interesting and fun.
Fun Fact: One of the songs heard was sung by one of the play’s cast members in his previous life as a pop star in the 1960’s!
But if the success of a play of this type can be measured by audience reaction then this one was a real winner!
When the murderer was revealed there was a collective intake of breath (which we held onto), we all leaned forward in our seats and you could hear a pin drop in the theatre. The atmosphere was incredibly intense. It was magic!
Spoiler: We were eventually able to breath out!
And the final joy was being asked by a cast member, as they took their bows to great applause, to keep the tradition of The Mousetrap alive and not reveal the culprit.
So on that note I shall honour their request and keep my lips sealed … except to say what a wonderful time I had and to encourage you all to go and see this excellent piece of entertainment!