There’s something about Agatha Christie’s THE MOUSETRAP which transcends the story itself. This is not just a play we witnessed last night on the New Theatre Cardiff stage, but a proper piece of history. For goodness sake, the show itself is on its 70th Anniversary Tour, which tells you everything you need to know about this extraordinary piece of work.

The Mousetrap, from left: Todd Carty, Essie Barrow, Joelle Dyson, Joseph Reed, Laurence Pears, Kieran Brown, Elliot Clay and Gwyneth Strong

I remember as a kid, on our very infrequent visits to London, seeing the marquee high about St Martin’s Theatre announcing that The Mousetrap is now in its 40th year, and then 50th, and with the passage of time, I have now grown up to see the show on its Platinum Anniversary. I can’t hide the fact that I was a tad excited as I took my seat in the packed auditorium last night, finally feeling I was part of a ‘special club‘.

But we’re here to review the show not bring you a history lesson, although somehow the two are closely entwined.

The rules are the same now as they were back in 1952 when the show opened in the West End – keep your mouth shut and don’t spoil the ending for anyone who may follow. So, with that mantra ringing in my ear, here’s our ‘spoiler free’ review of the show, which begins with reaction from last nights audience (who loved it by the way).


What is so great about this production, and believe me there’s a lot, is that the old-fashioned theatrical values remain. It seems we still have an enormous appetite for a good old ‘whodunit‘, especially one from the Queen of murder mystery.

The story is set in the 1950s at the fictional Monkswell Manor, a remote Berkshire Manor House, around 30 miles from London. We follow newlyweds Mollie and Giles Ralston (JOELLE DYSON and LAURENCE PEARS) who have just opened their guest house. On the very first day of opening 5 guests arrive and there’s murder in the manor.

People are never quite as they seem and as each of their stories unfold we end up trying to work out who is the murderer or possibly the next victim. There are clues along the way, but some of them smell distinctly fishy, like a basket of rotten ‘red herrings‘.

Did we mention there’s also a snowstorm, it wouldn’t be a whodunit without a storm of some sort.

There’s is some reality in the story – the wireless (remember those things) is playing the latest news bulletin, reporting on the murder of Maureen Lyon, which is loosely based on a real-life gruesome case of child cruelty. It makes for unpleasant reading to be honest if you choose to Google it.

The guests start to arrive and seemingly have nothing in common – but this is Agatha Christie and you just know you need to keep your detective wits about you. Keep an eye on GWYNETH STRONG as Mrs Boyle, ELLIOT CLAY is Christopher Wren, NICHOLAS MAUDE was Major Metcalf, filling in for TODD CARTY who you may get to see this week. ESSIE BARROW as the incredibly mysterious Miss Casewell and KIERAN BROWN as the fantastically flamboyant Mr Paravicini.

I wasn’t really going to single any particular player out but feel I must mention Elliot. I believe at one time he was understudy for the role of Christopher Wren, it’s easy to see how he is now a permanent fixture in Monkswell Manor. The character is great fun but Elliot really lifts it to another level.

It’s always nice to see so many recognisable faces appearing on our stages. What is a true testament to these seasoned players is within a moment you forget all about Only Fools and Horses and become completely engrossed in the story and characters.

It’s only a matter of time before the long arm of the law enters in the shape of Detective Sergeant Trotter, brilliantly played by JOSEPH REED.

So, the players are gathered, the plot is well and truly thickened and the manor house is the perfect setting for our mysterious tale.

The set itself is brilliant and really captures the moment. We have a roaring fire, a room filled with ‘Cluedo‘ like props and a collection of the most diversely eccentric characters you’ll meet anywhere.

The rattling window giving us a glimpse into the blizzard outside is a really nice touch too. Honestly, this is one of the best evenings of murder and mystery I’ve had for a long time – in the theatre that is.

I just want to reiterate what the audience said in our film – the play is also really funny, you will laugh, a lot, throughout this production.

There is so much to enjoy about this touring production, the cast, the staging, and of course, the story. This has all the elements of a classic whodunit with the atmosphere, style and out and out class we’ve come to expect from Agatha Christie. For me though, i go back to my opening; it really is nice to be part of this special 70th anniversary club. Being able to say I was there on this special occasion might seem a little theatre geeky, but we all loved it last night.

As with any club however, there are rules and the one rule you must follow with The Mousetrap is ‘don’t ever reveal the secret‘.

It would be wrong of me not to mention the distracting electrical hum which filled the auditorium through the whole production. I’m sure this will be sorted by the time you see the show. I mention it for two reasons: first of all, it was there and part of our evening, but secondly, as another testament to this brilliant cast who didn’t miss one beat throughout and delivered a performance like no other.

In the words of the Queen herself, ‘it is the sort of play you can take anyone to,’ and with that I couldn’t agree more. It’s so nice to have a production of this scale coming out of London and playing to packed houses around the country. And here’s where your detective skills really come into play. You might struggle to find yourself a ticket at the New Theatre. At the time of writing this review there are fewer than 10 left for the rest of the run, with the words SOLD OUT appearing on many performances.

THE MOUSETRAP is at the New Theatre in Cardiff through to Saturday 18th March. More details and tickets (if you can find them) and prices can be had HERE.

The tour then gets to the Grand Theatre in Swansea from Monday 25th to Saturday 30th September. Tickets and details can be had HERE.

You can read our original show feature HERE.

Production Photos: MATT CROCKETT.