I was in London at the weekend and not for the first time I found myself walking past the St Martin's Theatre - but that's all I've ever done... walked past it. Above the entrance there's a giant neon sign with "60th Year" flashing away. Opening in 1952 and running continuously for over 25,000 performances it is the longest running production of the modern era.
St Martin's Theatre, May 2013
For over 60 years the mystery of who killed Maureen Lyon was a West End secret but now The Mousetrap has embarked on it's first ever UK tour in celebration of it's Diamond Anniversary.
The Wolverhampton Grand Theatre is always a suitable host for drama, but none seemed more fitting on it's stage than this. The beautiful set is the wood-panelled sitting room of Monkswell Manor which I'm told is almost identical to the London production. The manor house, left by an aunt, opens as a guest house ran by Giles and Mollie Ralston (Bruno Langley and Jemma Walker). A murder is announced on the radio and as with all Christie plays, one by one the guests are revealed as potential culprits.
There is every type of character in The Mousetrap, partly what keeps audience interest. The play is wonderfully structured and first to enter is the camp, energetic and slightly sinister schizophrenic architect Christopher Wren (Steven France). France is responsible for bringing most of the humour which is always necessary in a play that has a lot of explanation going on. Bruno Langley (Todd from Coronation Street) is charming in the role of Giles and Eastenders' Jemma Walker is evermore captivating as Mollie as the mystery progresses. Bob Saul as Detective Sergeant Trotter and Elizabeth Power as the battle-axe Mrs Boyle give other amusing and stand-out performances.
What The Mousetrap isn't is the most dark and gruesome story. What it is, is rather a lighthearted and amusing attempt at discovering a killer with a twist ending that falls neatly into place. Traditionally audiences are told at the end that they become partners in crime and to keep the secret to themselves. If you want to know, you'll just have to go. Thoroughly enjoyable and completely worth a visit whilst it's at your local theatre - London prices are perhaps a little too costly and regional prices are a much better deal.
The Mousetrap runs at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 1st June before continuing on a tour of the UK long into 2014. Book tickets for Wolverhampton here.