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Susan Penhaligon shines in a slice of British whodunit theatre at its very best

THEATRE REVIEW: Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap

New Theatre, Peterborough

Monday, November 4, 2019

The cast of Mousetrap. Photo: Johan Persson (20924499)
The cast of Mousetrap. Photo: Johan Persson (20924499)

Another superbly professional performance has hit the stage in Peterborough this week, with famous murder thriller The Mousetrap starting a six-day run yesterday evening (Monday).

Just like Gaslight last month, there was a star name on show (Susan Penhaligon of Bouquet of Barbed Wire and A Fine Romance) but again it was the whole cast which impressed.

Described by the Daily Telegraph as "the cleverest murder mystery of the British theatre', the show has been running in the West End since 1952 - but thanks to the New Theatre, we can now get our taste of such quality entertainment a lot closer to home.

Susan Penhaligon as Mrs Boyle. Photo: Johan Persson (20924492)
Susan Penhaligon as Mrs Boyle. Photo: Johan Persson (20924492)

The show is your typically British whodunit as a group of strangers gather in a remote guest house, cut off by a heavy snow storm. There's been a murder in London and for reasons yet unknown that killing is being linked to Monkswell Manor, where there may be another victim... and the killer may be at large too.

The characters are an absolute delight with every persona you'd expect in a murder mystery. Penhaligon is a far cry from her early 80s A Fine Romance incarnation of sexy Helen but is superb as the cantankerous, ever-complaining old lady Mrs Boyle.

Nick Biadon and Harriett Hare play the young couple running the guest house Giles and Mollie Ralston and really do have the air of a newly-married couple, especially one of the 1950s when this was set, with Giles loving but slightly domineering and Mollie strong yet a little submissive.

Saskia Vaigncourt-Strallen plays the masculine Miss Casewell with aplomb, creating an air of mystery about her character, while John Griffiths portrays Major Metcalf as we all imagine a Major should be.

David Alcock as Mr Paravicini. Photo: Johan Persson (20924444)
David Alcock as Mr Paravicini. Photo: Johan Persson (20924444)

But what I didn't know about this play, or any of Christie's work, is that there's some lovely humour too. I won't put in any spoilers but Geoff Arnold has some great lines as Detective Sgt Trotter, a role he plays very well. Lewis Chandler is fantastic as the camp, excitable Christopher Wren and David Alcock has everyone laughing as the eccentric, mysterious Mr Paravicini.

I'll say no more about the plot - part of The Mousetrap's successful longevity is keeping the secret – but I would encourage you all to get down to New Theatre and lose yourselves for a couple of hours in British theatre at it's best.

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