Birmingham · Theatre

Theatre Review: The Mousetrap at New Alex Theatre

Wow, can you believe the murderer was…

Of course I’m not going to reveal one of theatre’s biggest secrets – one of the many small pleasures of this long-running show is the impassioned plea from the cast at the end for the audiences to keep mum. But there lots I can tell you about this touring production of a show which has amazingly been playing in the West End for over 60 years.

The scene is set with the cosy, wood-panelled drawing room of the guesthouse Monkswell Manor, with Molly and Giles Ralston nervously awaiting their first guests. They pay little attention to the wireless reports of the murder of a local woman, or to the description of the suspect in his dark coat, light scarf and soft felt hat. Their four invited guests arrive, despite the terrible snowy weather outside; they are soon joined by the mysterious foreign Mr Paravicini, and finally by a young police sergeant investigating the murder and following up a vital clue leading to the manor.  Will all the residents make it through the night? Are all the guests as unconnected as they first seem? Is the murderer amongst them?

It all plays out like a quintessentially English game of Cluedo as the audience, along with the sergeant, tries to uncover the truth. But what was surprising was the amount of humour lightening the dark scene. The young architect Christopher Wren (but not the Christopher Wren) is as exuberant as a puppy, Mr Paravicini hams up his part as the mysterious stranger and Mrs Boyle’s snide comments and asides about the Ralston’s first venture into the hospitality business make her an excellent candidate for a Trip Advisor reviewer.  And we, the audience, are drawn into the parlour; almost feeling the crackle of the log fire as Major Metcalf warms himself, and the icy draught when Sergeant Trotter climbs through the window to check the dead phone lines.

It’s quite rightly a classic show, and certainly one that any theatre lover should see. The tune of “Three Blind Mice” will stay with you for days. And you won’t believe you didn’t guess that the murderer is

Ha, you didn’t think I’d spill the beans did you? The Mousetrap’s run at the New Alexandra Theatre has now ended, but catch it if you can either on tour or at its West End home, St Martin’s Theatre.

 

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