Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Mousetrap, Sept 1, 2012 ***

By Agatha Christie
Comedy Theatre, Aug 30 to Oct 7, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sep 1
Christie Sullivan as Mollie Ralston in the Mousetrap

The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie is certainly a peculiar theatrical creature. It has run for 60 years on the West End in London and is now touring countries all over the globe, including this Australia touring production.

You’ve gotta love a whodunit and a whodunit by Agatha Christie has to be the top of the pops for crime mysteries.

The Mousetrap is arch, silly and very old-fashioned (in the nicest possible way), with quirky characters, plenty of clues, red herrings, without bloody violence.

The plot resembles that of Ten Little Niggers and Murder On The Orient Express. Eight people are isolated in a snowbound guesthouse in the countryside far from London when the radio announces a murder in London and that police are looking for suspect wearing a dark coat, light scarf and felt hat and most of the guests fit this description.

This production, directed with humour and respect by Gary Young, is at its best when played straight, without any sense of the actors commenting on the oddity of their characters or parodying the period and the style.

Christy Sullivan is pert and guileless as pretty Mollie Ralston, and as her husband, Giles, Gus Murray is suitably clean, crisp and narrow-minded.

As usual in an Agatha mystery, the guests are all suspiciously secretive or just plain weird. Travis Cotton is entertainingly wacky as slightly demented, young Christopher Wren and Linda Cropper is delightfully starchy and intolerant as former magistrate, Mrs. Boyle.

Nicholas Hope’s Major Metcalf is suspiciously reserved and Jacinta John’s Miss Casewell is appropriately androgynous.

Justin Smith’s comic timing and delivery are commendable as Sergeant Trotter and Robert Alexander is playful and strangely non-specific in his accent as Italian traveller, Paravicini.

The Mousetrap is a tradition and it would be mean-spirited and querulous to criticise a tradition. To question its theatrical merit is pointless because audiences love it, they keep returning and actors keep getting work on it. Long live the long-lived Mousetrap!

By Kate Herbert

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