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article imageThe Mousetrap: Going strong after 64 years Special

By Tim Sandle     Aug 23, 2016 in Entertainment
London - The Mousetrap is a play by Agatha Christie, the writer of murder-mysteries, and it holds the record as the world's longest-running stage play, having entered its 64th year of continuous production.
The Mousetrap was first performed in 1952 in London's West End, reaching 25,000 performances in 2012. The play is known for its twist ending; at the end of the performance the audience are asked not to reveal the ending after leaving the theater (warning: if you really want to avoid who the murderer was do not look at Wikipedia).
Part of the ticket stub for The Mousetrap  from August 2016.
Part of the ticket stub for The Mousetrap, from August 2016.
Indeed, at the end, the actor who plays the murderer tells the audience: “Now you have seen The Mousetrap you are our partners in crime, and we ask you to preserve the tradition by keeping the secret of whodunit locked in your hearts.”
The play began as a radio broadcast in 1947 (titled Three Blind Mice), its popularity at the time ensured a stage adaptation. The play was not expected to run for more than one season. In her autobiography, Agatha Christie mentions a conversation that she had with the play’s first producer, Peter Saunders. "Fourteen months I am going to give it", Saunders said. "It won't run that long,” Christie replied. “Eight months perhaps. Yes, I think eight months" (as quoted in The Daily Telegraph.)
An excerpt of the script from  The Mousetrap   on display at St. Martin s Theatre.
An excerpt of the script from 'The Mousetrap', on display at St. Martin's Theatre.
The title The Mousetrap draws on Hamlet, taking the title of the 'play within the play' that features in Shakespeare's tragedy.
The play's author, Dame Agatha Christie was better known for writing novels rather than plays, creating the fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The Guinness Book of World Records lists Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time, having shifted 2 billion copies worldwide.
The Mousetrap takes place eight times each week (six evenings and two matinees) at St Martin's Theatre. The theater suits the 1950s setting for the play, lots of brown wood and red velvet and the occasional creek of floorboards.
The audience preparing to watch the opening of  The Mousetrap   August 2016.
The audience preparing to watch the opening of 'The Mousetrap', August 2016.
St. Martin s is a charming theater. This picture shows a chandelier from the upper bar.
St. Martin's is a charming theater. This picture shows a chandelier from the upper bar.
The play transferred to the St. Martin's in 1974 and it has clocked up over 26,000 performances.
The 26  577th performance of  The Mousetrap   as attended by Digital Journal s Tim Sandle.
The 26, 577th performance of 'The Mousetrap', as attended by Digital Journal's Tim Sandle.
The lower bar at St. Martin s Theatre in London.
The lower bar at St. Martin's Theatre in London.
The play itself has an anachronistic feel and this embodies it with charm. The play is set during the 1950s in a rather plush guesthouse that was once the large house of a rather wealthy woman. The woman's niece has converted it into a hotel and the play opens on the night that the first guests arrive.
The guests resemble English stereotypes of the upper and middle classes, transitioning with the loss of status of the titled rich and the coming of 'new money.' In the early scenes differences in status and social manners are played out to comedic effect. Then comes a murder and the appearance of a policeman. The classic English country house murder-mystery thriller is then played out.
The way the mystery is solved — and no, it won't be revealed here — is not straightforward and it is gripping enough to keep the audience engaged.
The original West End cast included Richard Attenborough as Detective Sergeant Trotter and his wife Sheila Sim as Mollie Ralston. Today the cast is made up of new, upcoming actors and seasoned theater character actors.
An image of the current cast of The Mousetrap  on display at St. Martin s Theater.
An image of the current cast of The Mousetrap, on display at St. Martin's Theater.
The play is acted well, plotted at a sufficiently fast pace and carries with it a warm sense of nostalgia. The Mousetrap is more than a world record and better fare than other things primarily aimed at tourists. For the London visitor, it is well worth catching.
More about The Mousetrap, London, Theater, Play, Agatha christie
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