John Frost for Crossroads Live. Her Majesty’s Theatre. 3 Jan 2022
In what is rather a coup for South Australian, and indeed Australian audiences the 70th anniversary of the world’s longest running play sees it performed professionally outside of London’s West End for the first time!
Although not the first production on Australian shores (Therry Theatre – then Therry Dramatic Society – mounted a production at Adelaide’s Arts Theatre in 2011, amongst others), it will be the first professional touring production and with an all Australian cast.
The appeal is easy to spot. Forget your woes and leave your troubles at the door. The delightfully simple and altogether too predictable characters of Agatha Christie’s play are sure to entertain. Think you know who did it? Spot the obvious set up? The twists have twists of their own and even if you see one of them coming you are unlikely to spot the next.
Of course audiences are also required to maintain the mystery, so you won’t find any clues here – suffice to say it not one of the servants, there aren’t any!
The assembled cast including Anna O’Byrne, Alex Rathgeber, Laurence Boxhall, Geraldine Turner, Adam Murphy, Charlotte Friels, Gerry Connolly, and Tom Conroy are simply splendid. All of the characters are larger than life and yet representation seems remarkably ahead of its time. Penned in the early 1950s it manages subtle references to class, politics and socialism, homosexuality, bullying, conscription, and the enduring effects of trauma. Not what one might expect from a crime fiction bordering on farce.
The eccentric 19th century English interior stylings of the box set by Isabel Hudson are deliciously pleasing. With crackling embers in the hearth and a light fall of snow beyond the stained glass windows, the many doors make for some delightful fun with all the coming and going of characters. The beautiful set and wonderful costumes – including no less than 6 dark overcoats, light scarves, and soft felt hats – is sensitively lit by Trudy Dalgleish’s warm and enriching lighting design.
As hosts and housekeepers Mollie and Giles Ralston, O’Byrne and Rathgeber are suitably naïve. O’Byrne gets to show off her acting chops in the third act when details of her past come to bear, and Rathgeber is every bit her jealous and protective husband. Prudish guest Mrs Boyle, played by Turner is absolutely caustic in her belligerence and has audience members cheering her demise, while Murphy’s Major Metcalf is all austerity and gentlemanly propriety. Charlotte Friels’ burgeoning feminist Miss Casewell is strangely intense yet peculiarly circumspect and Connolly’s Paravicini suitably flamboyant with an undercurrent of suspicion and intrigue. Tom Conroy’s Sergeant Trotter provides the perfect level of inquiry with some beautifully executed character work at the denouement. But it is Boxhall’s Christopher Wren that quite rightly steals the show with his overflowing neuroticism, strange sense of humour, and crazy mop of unkempt hair. All of this action perfectly paced by Director Robyn Nevin.
Really The Mousetrap is a play for everyone. And perhaps that goes someway to explaining the long term success of the production. There is much to be enjoyed on stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre; you’d have to be one of three blind mice not to!
When: 31 Dec 22 to 15 Jan 23
Where: Her Majesty’s Theatre
Continuing: Comedy Theatre Melbourne, 17 Feb to 26 Mar