What's On

Your guide to everything in North East

Review: Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, Theatre Royal, Newcastle

Lesley Oldfield takes in the 60th anniversary touring production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap at Newcastle Theatre Royal

****
Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap at Newcastle Theatre Royal The cast of 60th Anniversary Tour of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap
Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap at Newcastle Theatre Royal The cast of 60th Anniversary Tour of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap

As a teenager I consumed Agatha Christie’s crime fiction like biscuits and, with tickets to The Mousetrap in hand, I was all set for a classic shortbread of a show.

Two hours and 20 minutes later, I left feeling I’d had a treat... but though traditional, the play is a more sophisticated construction than I had anticipated.

This no doubt goes some way to explaining its extraordinary longevity.

For 62 years The Mousetrap has been running in the West End and its appearance in Newcastle is part of a tour to celebrate the 60th anniversary – the same tour which saw it at the Theatre Royal last year.

At the end of the play, audiences are asked to keep the secrets of the whodunnit locked in their hearts, and so I shall.

However, this does makes it a little trickier to write about! To reveal the identity of the murderer would be the ultimate crime, but the twists and turns of the plot are also crucial.

Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap at Newcastle Theatre Royal Anne Kavanagh (Mrs Boyle), Stephen Yeo (Christopher Wren) and Christopher Gilling (Major Metcalf)
Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap at Newcastle Theatre Royal Anne Kavanagh (Mrs Boyle), Stephen Yeo (Christopher Wren) and Christopher Gilling (Major Metcalf)
 

There were red herrings, changing theories, suspicious characters galore and suspense, as you might expect, and no less welcome for that.

However, there was also a welcome smattering of humour and characters to entertain, feel affection for... and constantly mistrust.

It feels rather like a life-sized version of Cluedo except that we know exactly where the murder occurs – in the lavish, unchanging lounge of the large but remote guest house, Monkswell, which is the set.

As the curtain rose to shouts offstage, I feared an aged, creaky affair and some characters, like Giles Ralston, do display old prejudices.

But the quality of the play and of the cast keep the audience fully engaged.

Helen Clapp is a tour de force as Mollie Ralston, Anne Kavanagh convincingly irritating as Mrs Boyle, Luke Jenkins a great policeman, who shows necessary resourcefulness from the moment of his arrival - in one of those funny moments - and Stephen Yeo a wonderful oddball who reminded me of Hugh Laurie in his Blackadder days.

The full cast of eight keep us guessing and while you may figure out one or two of the surprises, you won’t get them all.

And the butler certainly didn’t do it – there isn’t one!

  • The Mousetrap is at Newcastle Theatre Royal until Saturday. Tickets available online at theatreroyal.co.uk or from the box office on 08448 11 21 21.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer