Behind-The-Scenes At The World Longest Running Play!

img_6521Back when I was wee little Alex, back in high school, I read a book called “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie (once titled “10 Little Indians” and before that, something even worse, but rightly changed because I guess the world finally discovered racism.) And despite the horrifying titles, the story was mind-blowlingly amazing, one of the best whodunnit murder mysteries I’ve ever read.

And it made me an Agatha Christie fan for life.

Little did little Alex know that one day he’d live in London where she lived and wrote and eventually put on The Mousetrap for the first time on stage back in 1952.

And that play would then be performed in London ever since, making it the longest-running play in the world.

Now, I knew this play was playing, I knew it played all the time, and I knew I wanted to see it. And yet, I never did. It was just sitting there on the bucket list, not being watched by me.

Then I found out I was leaving London and dammit, if nothing else is going to make you do something, that will.

img_6519

Courtesy of www.timothyohara.me

Courtesy of www.timothyohara.me.

Coincidentally at the same time, I met Tim O’Hara, a fantastic actor and all around guy who happened to be coming to the end of his starring role in, what else, The Mousetrap! It turns out that actors in this incredibly long-running play perform for a year and then pass the reigns to the next group of talented actors (and the directors direct for three years and then pass it on as well.)

So Shamaine and I finally went and saw performance number 26,681 of The Mousetrap and it was phenomenal.

img_6522

The Mousetrap?

img_6523

Now, some of you who are not fans of theatre, mystery or London may be asking why you haven’t heard of this play before, especially if it’s the world longest running show.

Well, interestingly enough, only one production of the play (in addition to the one in the West End) can be performed every year and no film adaptation can be produced until the West End production has been closed for at least six months, according to the contract terms of the play.

So, it’s mostly going to stay in London, and it looks like it literally may run forever here.

THE PLAY

Courtesy of the-mousetrap.co.uk.

So what’s the play like?

Well, it’s old school.

I mean this in both setting and in production. Like other Christie mysteries, this is about a group of people brought together under mysterious circumstances and then forced to face a deadly murder.

Here’s the play’s synopsis from the website:

The scene is set when a group of people gathered in a country house cut off by the snow discover, to their horror, that there is a murderer in their midst. Who can it be? One by one the suspicious characters reveal their sordid pasts until at the last, nerve-shredding moment the identity and the motive are finally revealed.

The Mousetrap is dark and engaging and I was really into it the whole way through, on the edge of my seat as it came to it’s conclusion.

It’s also funny, but mostly due to situational humour over pre-written jokes (my man Tim was hilarious, but we were talking to people who had seen the show before and said there was no humour, so the actors clearly play a major role in the pacing of the show.)

It’s also very straight forward. They set the scene, you meet the characters, there’s a murder, a mystery and a reveal – although it is a very good reveal. And I will say this, if you like the old school twisted feeling of the murder mysteries of yesteryear, you’ll love this.

And at the end, they welcome you into The Mousetrap family and ask you not to reveal the secrets to others, so I shan’t! I shan’t!

BEHIND THE SCENES

img_6638After the murderer revealed and the play finished, Shamaine and I got a chance to tour the set with Tim and see behind-the-scenes.

The set was smaller than it looked on stage but no less charming.

It’s such an old set, and I mean old. They have items like the original crank wind machine to make the noises of the epic snowstorm and signs from yesteryear.

Plus, you can walk into the “snowstorm room”, which is basically a giant fan that blows foam over the actors, making it seem like they’ve come out of the cold. And how could I resist walking into that storm.

There are also little touches throughout the set that you’d never see from the audience, like the picture of Agatha herself on the mantle near the fire.

img_6637

FINAL REVIEW

img_6617I loved seeing this show, I loved seeing the stage, I loved being a small part of theatrical history.

If you are in London, visiting London or thinking of coming to London, add this to your list. It is quintessentially and historically English and, above all, deadly amounts of fun.


THE GOOD: It’s a fun, twisty, dark murder mystery that’s a blast to watch. Plus, you’re literally part of theatrical history as you watch the longest running show in the world.

THE BAD: It can feel a little dated and if you’re not into classic murder mysteries, this just won’t be your thing.

The Mousetrap runs daily at the St. Martin’s Theatre, West St, London WC2H 9NZ. You can purchase tickets here.

LEAVE A COMMENT