20th September 2o16
Three blind mice, three blind mice,
See how they run, see how they run,
They all ran after the farmer’s wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a thing in your life,
As three blind mice?
As with all British nursery rhymes, a seemingly innocent ditty actually has sinister undertones. See http://www.rhymes.org.uk/three_blind_mice.htm
And it’s much the same with an Agatha Christie story. Innocent/glamourous locations: the seaside hotel, a London hotel or a country house where proceedings often start out innocently enough but soon the undercurrents start to appear. And of course The Mousetrap is no exception.
As you can see from the programme image above all the elements for a good mystery are in place: the isolated location, a group of people trapped by the weather (a common theme in Christie’s books and in keeping with the literary practice of pathetic fallacy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathetic_fallacy) – in this case a snowstorm, and men in dark hats of course. #obvs This is Agatha Christie and the 1930s after all.
Oh I was soooooo excited to see this legendary play. It’s been on my bucket list for years. Should you not be aware, the play is world-famed for being the longest running show of any kind in British theatre history – 25,000 performances and counting from it’s opening night in London’s West End in 1952.
According to that fount of all knowledge Wikipedia: ‘The play had to be renamed at the insistence of Emile Littler who had produced a play called Three Blind Mice in the West End before the Second World War. The suggestion to call it The Mousetrap came from Christie’s son-in-law, Anthony Hicks. In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, “The Mousetrap” is Hamlet’s answer to Claudius’s inquiry about the name of the play whose prologue and first scene the court has just observed (III, ii). The play is actually The Murder of Gonzago, but Hamlet answers metaphorically, since “the play’s the thing” in which he intends to “catch the conscience of the king.” ‘
Read more about the history of The Mousetrap here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mousetrap
For some reason or other I missed it when it was at the Wyvern last time round. So getting the chance to see it last night was v.welcome.
The Wyvern is a superb theatre with not a bad seat in the place and some excellent productions on their programme. And this was no exception.
The house was damn near packed out which is testament to the popularity of the Queen of Crime.
In Google images you’ll see some stills from this production and many past ones – and you’ll notice how faithfully reproduced the set is from early productions. I love that. I love that sense of tradition and continuity. It’s so very… British I suppose.
Now then! For obvious reasons I can’t give anything away about the plot because that would be spoilers! But the strapline on the tour company’s website: ‘Suspect Everyone’ should give you some clue as to the amount of red herrings and confusion and mystery mayhem the play contains.
And I especially can’t say ‘Whodunnit’ because I promised not to. What do I mean by that? Well the best way to find out is to go and see it! And I urge you to do so.
Book tickets for the Wyvern production here: https://swindontheatres.co.uk/online/default.asp?doWork::WScontent::loadArticle=Load&BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::article_id=15909634-7EDF-4260-BD16-5FA94879AF86
To whet your appetite – here’s a trailer from another production: https://youtu.be/vCGFKJLL2cI