Well now I can finally say that I’ve seen the institution that is The Mousetrap, and I didn’t even have to trawl all the way to London. I knew very little about it beforehand, apart from the fact that Agatha Christie wrote it, it is the longest running show in the world and there would probably be at least one murder in it!
I must say I have struggled to know where to start with this review, so I looked up this legendary show and discovered that only one production per year can take place outside London and that the audience are always asked not to reveal the plot twist.
This show is very much of its time – the costumes and set are authentic, and the lighting extremely atmospheric. Most of the time it did indeed feel that we were in a panelled 1950s guest house drawing room, and the story lulled us along in a sort of winter glow which, at times, felt quite soporific.
The actors hammed it up nicely as the eccentric, rather over the top, characters, even slipping in a few tongue in cheek Brexit references, which prompted some appreciative, wry chuckles from the audience. The whole thing had an unmistakable Agatha Christie feel to it, lacking only Miss Marple, although Mrs Boyle fills the slightly dotty dowager role quite nicely, being sharp-witted and equally sharp-tongued.
I was keen to know why this show has managed to keep running for so long, and has achieved such mythical status, and the answer is that I honestly can’t tell you! The set was great, the acting was good, the lighting, costumes, fake snow etc. etc. etc. were all spot on, but I didn’t find the fabled plot twist particularly surprising and I’m afraid that the whole thing left me feeling just a tiny bit disappointed.
I feel bad for saying it because there was nothing wrong, as such, just that I think perhaps the show is a victim of its own success, and it belongs to a different time. Some shows are brought up to date and some are left well alone because they stand the test of time. For me, sadly, this one doesn’t quite deserve that accolade as the characters are not well rounded enough and the plot not quite interesting enough.
That said, if you’re a fan of a classic whodunit, you have nostalgic yearnings or you want to tick The Mousetrap off your bucket list, then make sure you catch it while you can. This is a classy production with assured performances, and you don’t have to venture any further than Manchester!
Show runs until July 2nd at The Opera House, tickets available from atg tickets.