The Mousetrap

Agatha Christie
Bristol Hippodrome

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The Company performing in The Mousetrap Credit: Matt Crockett

The Mousetrap stops off on its epic, cross-country 70th anniversary tour at the Bristol Hippodrome—one of the larger venues it’s playing. What more can be added to the reviewing world in regards to Agatha Christie’s globally renowned whodunnit play? Let’s see…

It is a remarkable feat, with a worldwide pandemic aside, The Mousetrap remains a constant attraction all these decades later. There are no signs of it slowing down as they accelerate towards a Broadway show for the first time later this year in New York. Christie’s books still fly off the shelves, TV series continue to be churned out, Kenneth Branagh does his best moustache-wearing, impersonation of Poirot and even a film made about the play itself as a plot device has been made (See How They Run) starring Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan. Bravo. Perhaps most remarkably, the tour will run into the play’s 72nd year when it is due to conclude in 2024.

So how does this play, so special to many, fare in the grand Bristol Hippodrome? Well, it’s not St Martin’s Theatre. The sheer size of the place eliminates all intimacy that this winter-set, cosy British whodunnit wants to illuminate. As expected for a show touring theatres of all shapes and sizes, the stage is unable to stretch across the Hippodrome’s large frame.

It’s worth remembering that The Mousetrap is the original whodunnit on stage. By that, this reviewer doesn’t necessarily mean first to the post to put a murder mystery in a theatre, but that a plethora of recent productions seek inspiration and pay homage to Christie’s creation. The Play That Goes Wrong certainly wouldn’t exist in the same way without it.

The charm of Monkswell Manor remains ever-present. A fantastic cast of seven do a terrific job. Much of the attraction is the play itself and playwright, however day-in and day-out the company keeps this mystery going with all its weight of theatre history travelling alongside them. Shaun McCourt is an excellent Christopher Wren, effortlessly delivering his snarky one-liners. Garwyn Williams is equally terrific as Detective Sergeant Trotter, a role originated by Richard Attenborough. It is held together nicely by Rachel Dawson’s Mollie Ralston.

A packed-out Hippodrome is exactly why this 70th anniversary tour sees no signs of stopping anytime soon. While its West End sister closes in on a mammoth 30.000 performances, the touring company is bringing Christie’s masterpiece to the masses with bucket loads of joy and entertainment. Does it eclipse the St Martin’s Theatre experience? No—and it would be harsh to judge it this way. If anything, it does a fantastic job at making the audience repeat-purchase a ticket to the London West End. A tidy piece of marketing…

Reviewer: Jacob Newbury

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