There’s a reason why The Mousetrap is the longest continuously-running play in history: it’s simply very, very good. Without going into detail – and revealing any details of the plot would be extremely jolly bad form – The Mousetrap a joyful romp that combines intelligent comedy and gripping drama together with a lightness of touch that only Dame Agatha Christie can muster. Arriving at Norwich Theatre Royal this week, the 2019 UK Tour of the production – which is still running in the West End, and has been since 1952 – simply never stops being entertaining.
Despite the play being continually produced for 67 years, there is clear evidence that, in order to keep the show fresh and interesting for performers and audience alike, the tour’s director, Gareth Armstrong, has been given permission to put their own stamp on the proceedings, albeit without drastically changing characters or their dialogue. Armstrong’s choice to emphasise the comedy of the piece works incredibly well; as such, with its tongue firmly its cheek – although not so much as to descend into self-parody – The Mousetrap is a hoot from start to finish.
The cast of the 2019 UK tour are uniformly superb, bringing a fun energy to all the roles. Arguably the highlight of the show is theatre debutant Lewis Chandler as the peculiar Christopher Wren, who manages to milk every line for camp comedy value, never failing to hit the mark – definitely one to watch in future! David Alcock follows closely behind his lead, with his over-the-top Dracula-esque faux-menace interpretation of Mr Paravicini, stopping only just short of wearing a green cape and vampire fangs, counting the props and then laughing.
They are joined by Saskia Vaigncourt-Strallen, who doesn’t quite make her character – the ultra-modern gender-bending Miss Casewell – quite as eccentric as Chandler and Alcock, despite having the potential opportunity to do so; but then again, neither do John Griffiths or Gwyneth Strong – yes, Cassandra from Only Fools And Horses, by far the most famous name on stage, who makes her final performance of the run at Norwich this week – make too much of the self-important Major Metcalf or uptight Mrs Boyle. This is not a criticism; the balance between larger-than-life characters with the less outrageous performances gives the production a variety, and saves it from tipping into the utterly ludicrous.
The entire production is held together by Geoff Arnold‘s central and confident portrayal of Sgt Trotter, whose investigation of a murder case has led him to the front door of a typical upper-middle class 1950s married couple running a guesthouse. Nick Biadon and Harriet Hare make for a delightful Giles and Mollie Ralston, adding some everyday down-to-earth normality – albeit with dynamic, sparkling banter – to the proceedings. Indeed, the sparkle isn’t limited to the performances either: the set is simply a thing of beauty. The production also displays very effective lighting and special effects to enhance the gradually increasing claustrophobia as the plot thickens…
In short, The Mousetrap combines excellent, fun performances with a sparkling script and very high production values, making for a thoroughly enjoyable evening’s entertainment. In a word, unmissable.
The 2019 UK tour of The Mousetrap will performed at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday, and will visit various venues across the UK until November 16th.