Playing at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre until March 26, Perth’s His Majesty’s Theatre from 8-16 April, the Canberra Theatre from 11-21 May, Brisbane’s QPAC Playhouse from May 26-June 10 and Parramatta’s Riverside Theatre from June 15-24.
Tickets and more info: https://themousetrap.com.au/
You know a play is doing something right when it has been running continuously on the London stage for 70 years and counting (save for a brief hiatus due to Covid in 2020-21), and Agatha Christie’s venerable murder mystery The Mousetrap does not disappoint as it bounds onto the Melbourne stage as the kickoff to a huge national tour.
It’s tough to review The Mousetrap as the show’s makers insist that you must not spoil any of the secrets of the show, and to even go into specific detail about the plot would ruin the fun for any audience members, who, like me, had no idea what they were in for before venturing into the theatre.
What little about the plot I can reveal is that the setting is a quaint, newly-opened British guest house in the 1950s. A grisly murder that takes place off-stage before the show begins and sets in motion events at this snowed-in guest house, run by lovable husband and wife Mollie and Giles Ralston (Anna O’Byrne and Alex Rathgeber), and inhabited on a cold, dark night by an eccentric bunch of guests, as well as one whip-smart detective (Tom Conroy).
That’s all I would be willing to reveal plotwise, but given that Agatha Christie’s name is on the theatre marquee, audiences probably have a good idea of what they’re in for and her wickedly funny script is a delight from start to finish, brought to vivid life by a wonderful cast of local actors who all embody their roles perfectly.
The wonderfully detailed set is a marvellous space for the performers to gleefully inhabit their mostly larger-than-life stage personas, but the standout is easily the magnetic Laurence Boxhall as foppish oddball Christopher Wren, who gets all the best lines and comedic moments. I’ve been impressed with Boxhall’s work in the past, but he truly excels himself here with his scene-stealing work here.
The rest of the cast is exceptional, including veteran actors like Geraldine Turner and Gerry Connolly, and rounded out by Adam Murphy and Charlotte Friels, who are all terrific in support.
The Mousetrap is the sort of production where you hang off every word that comes out of the characters mouths, lest you miss a vital clue or piece of the intricate puzzle the master mystery writer has laid out. The vivid recreation of the era is sold wonderfully by both the costumes and set design, but also by the work of the cast, with special mention going to Boxhall and O’Byrne, who wonderfully emulate the acting style and vocal inflections of the 1950s era.
The show is terrific from start to finish, but I think the first act, which is more light-hearted and comedic than the second, is the superior of the two, with the farcical elements being quite frequent and proceedings almost feeling like a lost episode of Fawlty Towers at times, which floored me as I didn’t expect the show to be as disarmingly funny as it was.
Whether you’re a Christie aficionado or a complete newbie, there is something for everyone in The Mousetrap, a wicked concoction of red herrings and mind-blowing twists and turns that will no doubt ensnare the complete attention of all theatregoers countrywide in what will no doubt be a stellar run throughout 2023.
Images: Supplied/Brian Geach