ENDURING ‘TRAP’ IS DELIGHTFUL
by Agatha Christie
Produced in New Zealand by Michael Coppel, Louise Withers and Linda Bewick in association with Adrian Barnes and by arrangement with Mousetrap Productions Ltd London
at St James Theatre, Wellington
From 15 Nov 2012 to 24 Nov 2012
Reviewed by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media], 19 Nov 2012
originally published in The Dominion Post
Having played on London's West End continuously since 1952, with rarely any other production's of the play anywhere else during that time, Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap is now seeing the light of day around the world as a celebration of its 60 years.
Agatha Christie become one of the most famous writers of the ‘whodunit' genre and her play The Mousetrap (originally called The Blind Mice) fits into this mould perfectly.
A group of disparate and eccentric individuals are holed up in a remote hotel during a snow blizzard with a killer on the loose. When one of them is killed the interrogation into ‘whodunit' begins.
Although the famous ending – not to be revealed outside the theatre – has a certain fascination about it and the revelations as they unfold are mildly amusing, as thrillers go the play is not overly gripping, especially with so much of the genre on television these days.
So why is it that a play of this type is still going so strong? Partly this is due to its own momentum – audiences go find out what has made it live so long – and partly the wonderful array of characters.
And this Australian production with its all Australian cast under the direction of Gary Young have pulled out all the stops to create an exceptional piece of period theatre.
On an elaborately designed set by Linda Bewick that is the epitome of a English Manor house and with Suzy Strout's wonderfully in-period costume and hair designs the actors have a ball.
The ever-so-twee young English couple Giles and Mollie Ralston running the hotel are perfectly played by Gus Murray and Christy Sullivan.
Into their establishment arrives hyperactive young Christopher Wren (Travis Cotton), the curmudgeonly Mrs Boyle (Linda Cropper), the rather staid Major Metcalfe (Nicholas Hope), the mannish Miss Casewell (Jacinta John), the fanatical foreigner Mr Paravicini (Robert Alexander) and the investigating officer Detective-Sergent Trotter (Justin Smith).
With wonderfully heightened performances that play up the stereotypical eccentricities beautifully, yet never so extravagantly that the characters don't appear real within the context of the play, they bring out loads of humour to make this a most delightful evenings entertainment of the world's most enduring play.
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