The Mousetrap, theatre review: Still like clockwork

Fiona Mountford

At the end of this week, the world’s longest-running show will complete its 65th year in the West End. It is salutary to reflect that when it opened, Winston Churchill was prime minister and there was still rationing.

Now that Agatha Christie’s seemingly indestructible Mousetrap is of pensionable age, what is its current state of health? Is it running on clockwork that was last wound in the era of pre-decimal currency? Are all the actors on stage actually still alive?

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Indeed they are. The eight-strong cast, as well as the director, changes regularly and if “fresh” might be something of a stretch, the first half of Hugh Ross’s production is certainly spritely enough, as it sets in motion what looks to be a briskly efficient country house murder mystery.

The guests, rather a rum bunch, arrive one by one at the isolated, soon-to-be-snowbound Monkswell Manor; frequent radio reports tell us that a suspected murderer is on the loose and, satisfyingly, no one appears to be telling the complete truth. The refrain of Three Blind Mice echoes semi-ominously throughout.

Unfortunately the second half gets increasingly creaky — that clockwork could be wound far more tightly here — before a highly unconvincing, not to mention oddly peremptory ending. The cast play their roles, which are largely character types, with precision, and still the single phone line remains cut. This will surely never close. Will it?

Until Doomsday;