Saturday, 22 September 2012

Review: 'The Mousetrap' at St Martin's Theatre

I just realized that I went to one of the most well-known plays/theatres in London over 2 weeks ago and didn't review it. I mean, where is my mind at the moment? Definitely not in my head, that I know for sure! Anyways, the play I am talking about is 'The Mousetrap' and let me just start this review with some facts:
  • It is the longest running play in London. There is a big number board in the atrium and they keep count of every performance. By now, they have had over  24,500 performances (see the picture).
  • At the end of the performance, the audience members are asked by the actors not to reveal the ending to anyone so that it will remain a surprise for future audiences. So DON'T check out the Wiki page because it will tell you the ending. I repeat: DON'T go on Wikipedia!
  • The play began as a radio play, which was written in honour of Queen Mary in 1947 by Agatha Christie. There was also a short story but Christie requested it not be published in the UK as long as the play is on, which means it has still not been published here, but it has been in the US.
So, let's get cracking with this review. I have never been to a crime-play and I was seriously wondering how it would work. We all know how tension is created on tv or in the movies: scary music, long pauses, intense stares, silences. But this can hardly be used in theatre where the back row can't see your intense stare and where a silence is never really silent. So the tension very much becomes something that the audience itself builds up, which makes the experience much more intense and inclusive. Let me explain this a bit more: on tv, the show does everything for you and you just have to sit there and take it in. In this play, you work yourself up to it, of course helped by a great play, and the scares or the plot twists are so much more intense that way.

Agatha Christie is the woman who gave us Poirot and I am a massive Poirot-fan! He just makes my Saturdays sometimes, I mean what's not to love about that little Belgian man? But he is not in the play, unfortunately. Originally called 'Three Blind Mice', it is set in a pension which has just been started by a wife and husband. News reaches them that a woman has been murdered in London while they prepare to receive their first guests. Of course all of these have diverse characters and spontaneously clash. However, a stranger arrives and they are snowed in, which means no one can leave. A police officer arrives however because a clue had been left at the London crime scene, hinting the next victim will fall in the pension. As is usual with Agatha Christie, everyone is up for suspicion and the killer is not who you expected, at all. I think if you know how Christie's crimes work you might be at an advantage but there are still enough twists to keep it entertaining.

The great thing about a play is that you can measure the success during the break. Are people talking it can be both good and bad. Are they talking about the play, then it's good. Are they talking about their day, then it's bad. During this break people couldn't stop guessing who the killer was and who else would die. My sister and I had read something about cross-dressing, don't ask me where or why, so we came up with the strangest plots, none of which were correct. But the atmosphere was one of excitement and also suspense. So this was definitely an enjoyable experience for me. But being a crime-play, I don't see how you could go see it multiple times. I wanted to see Shakespeare's 'Henry V' over and over again, partly due to an infatuation with the King. But I am quite happy having seen this once and not again.

So in conclusion, it is a very enjoyable play. The actors were great in their roles and also elicited some laughs from the audience at times. The plot is not overly complicated, hints are dropped throughout but they only start making sense towards the end. St Martin's Theatre is beautiful and just off the main street, which means it's not as busy. Another tip, in case you're planning on spending the evening there: Jamie Oliver has an Italian restaurant just around the corner. Who doesn't love Jamie?

So, does this sound like your kind of play? Are you an Agatha Christie fan?

1 comment:

  1. That is so cool that you got to see Agatha Christie!