Review by Tim Garratt
Celebrating 70 years since its first performance in London, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is now inviting Australian audiences to experience its tale of murder mystery. Theatregoers in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra have had the chance to see London’s longest-running play on their own doorstep, joining over 10 million people who’ve seen The Mousetrap on the West End. Last week, the Australian production, presented by John Frost for Crossroads Live, returned to Sydney for a limited season at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres.
Set inside the fictional Monkswell Manor in 1952, The Mousetrap sees married couple Mollie and Giles Ralston (Anna O’Byrne and Alex Rathgeber) get more than they bargained for, when they open a guesthouse in their home. Detective Sergeant Trotter (Tom Conroy) arrives at the manor as part of his investigation of a local murder and reveals that not only are the Ralstons providing accommodation to five potential suspects, but every occupant could themselves be in the killer’s sights.
This reviewer attended The Mousetrap in its debut season at Sydney’s Theatre Royal last October and is pleased to report that the production is in great shape. It helps that all events transpire on a beautifully detailed set, successfully evoking a sense of a stately English manor. Primarily, however, the success of the production owes to Robyn Nevin’s adept direction and her excellent cast. O’Byrne and Rathgeber are wonderfully cast as the green guesthouse proprietors, who are entirely unprepared for what’s in store. Conroy is a standout as the stern detective, bringing remarkable gravitas to his portrayal. Additionally, the roles of the demanding Mrs Boyle (Geraldine Turner), the upright Major Metcalf (Adam Murphy), the elusive Miss Casewell (Katherine Pearson) and the suspicious Mr Paravicini (Gerry Connolly) are entrusted to some of Australia’s best stage actors.
But it’s Laurence Boxhall’s delightful performance as the eccentric and excitable Christopher Wren that leaves the strongest impression. He combines snappy delivery of his lines with aptly chosen gestures and a keen sense of comedy. Boxhall becomes a clear audience favourite early in the piece.
The script (together with Nevin’s direction) keeps proceedings moving at a comfortable pace, and moments of gravity (which touch on some dark themes) are balanced appropriately with moments of levity. As to how it all ends … well, like the countless audiences that have come before us, we’re sworn to secrecy just before the curtain falls.
Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap has now thrilled audiences for seven decades, and there’s no indication that this beloved whodunit will play to its final London house any time soon. Take this rare chance in Australia to be part of this theatrical phenomenon, served up by some of our finest.