Review: The Mousetrap at Theatre Royal Bath 8/10
APART from the original out-of-town run, and the occasional production in aid of charity, this tour marks the first time this phenomenally successful murder mystery has been seen outside of London's West End.
After the play opened in the Ambassadors Theatre on November 25, 1952, later transferring next door to the St Martin's Theatre in 1974, nobody including the author and the leading players Richard Attenbourgh and his wife Sheila Sim, had much hope of a long run.
Mrs Christie, who gave the performing rights of the play to her grandson Matthew Pritchard, nominated a stay in the West End of eight months at the most.
All sorts of records have been broken by the play over the past 60 years, probably the most unusual being the presence in every one of the more than 25,000 performances of one actor, or to be more precise, his voice. The distinctive recorded tones of the late Deryck Guyler have been heard through an old-fashioned radio reading the BBC news every time the play has been performed in London.
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So what marks this whodunit as something very special compared to the many other wonderful mystery stories written by the Queen of mystery writers, Agatha Christie?
Finding an answer to that question is an even bigger puzzle than any of the "red herrings" thrown up by the plot of this play. Could it be that moment at the end of the play when you are told that you are now part of a select band who know the secret final twist to the plot, the name of the killer, and are sworn to secrecy?
At times bordering on the verge of a send up of the whodunit genre, Ian Watt-Smith's beautifully staged, and expertly acted production kept the packed audience concentrating on every new twist and turn throughout.
When they left, they felt that they now had joined that privileged unique band who know the secrets of The Mousetrap.
The tour will also be at the Bristol Hippodrome from the 29th April to the 4th May (box office number 0844 871 3012)