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The Mousetrap | Yvonne Arnaud

The age-old tale of whodunnit renewed before our very eyes.

A bright red curtain rises to reveal the lavish set of Monkswell Manor’s drawing room, which is to be opened that night as a guest house by the charming Mollie Ralston (Perdita Ogbourne) and her husband Giles Ralston (Michael Lyle). That night, they are to receive seven unlikely guests, all with their distinct personalities and secrets. As the news of a murder taking place in London spreads, those seven guests and the Ralstons find themselves stranded by the snow in the countryside house. When a police sergeant (Garyn Williams) arrives at the house, the guests discover that a killer is in their midst – and so, as it turns out, is their next victim.

Perhaps unsurprisingly to a connoisseur of Agatha Christie’s timeless classics, this investigation is full of unexpected twists, forcing the audience to learn that they should not judge a book by its cover. Even more than that, it teaches the audience to not be fooled by people who claim to hold authority over them, for no one is blameless. In a way, this point is one which makes the show timeless in that it can be applied to the modern world. As social media takes over our lives, it is much easier to let ourselves be fooled by those who claim to be someone they are not.

With such an ingenious storyline, it is no wonder that this show has enjoyed a 70-year run in theatres, which would have been uninterrupted had it not been for a global pandemic. During this time, this show has become a ‘must-see’ tourist attraction, with the secret of whodunnit locked away safely in the hearts of over 10 million audience members. The production of the show itself is quite remarkable, including decadent sets, clever lighting choices, and a wireless delivering sinister news to the manor’s inhabitants. Even the curtain itself is no ordinary curtain, as in the centre is a large spotlight shaping an eye on its velvet fabric, as if to symbolise the inquisitive eye through which the audience is about to witness the case. The drawing room set is complete with lavish furniture, a fireplace with beautiful wood finishings, and even surprisingly, a staircase which ultimately leads to the adjoining ground floor door. This particular feature reminded this reviewer of the popular detective board game Cluedo, in which one staircase would lead to another room on the opposite corner of the board. Perhaps hinting at the fact that ultimately, these characters are just pawns in a much larger game?

Every little detail of this production was cleverly thought through, throwing blame from one person to the next with such ease that it makes it impossible to guess who the real culprit is. Brilliant writing would not have been so effective had it not been for the swarm of talent present on stage. Shaun McCourt plays young Christopher Wren, a comedic man who claims to be training in architecture. His mannerisms created an endearing character, arousing suspicion from the audience for being the deceptive guest. With some slapstick humour, McCourt’s character provides relief for rising tensions, whilst also delivering a sweet vulnerability.

Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is a deliciously macabre take on the genre as it immerses the audience fully, turning them into detectives watching the characters’ every move, waiting in anticipation for one to slip up.

The Mousetrap is playing at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford until Saturday 4th November, when it will move on the other tour venues until August 3rd, 2024. Tickets for this venue and the remainder of the tour can be booked here.


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