All are welcome.
ESU/ Fringe Club Play-Reading for August
Date, time and place: 21 August 7.30 at Colette’s
The play this month:
by Agatha Christie
The Mousetrap, while certainly not the greatest literary example of dramatic theatre ever written, is without doubt the most famous ‘whodunnit’ in the English language. Running continuously for over 60 years, Agatha Christie’s play broke records in London’s West End and established her as a playwright, in addition to a novelist, in the public eye. Since its debut in 1952 it has become the longest running play in the history of the West End with the 25,000th performance taking place on 18 November 2012. The 25,000th performance was marked with a one-off star studded performance, introduced by Christie's grandson Mathew Prichard and featuring Patrick Stewart, Julie Walters and Miranda Hart. The performance accompanied the unveiling of the Agatha Christie memorial statue in Leicester Square, which commemorated her great works and her contributions to the theatre.
The story was adapted from a radio play entitled Three Blind Mice, written for the then Queen Mary in 1947 and a subsequent short story. It was Agatha Christie’s son-in-law, Anthony Hicks who suggested a new title that refers to the so-called ‘Mousetrap’ scene in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In this scene Hamlet cryptically refers to the play depicting the murder of the king, as ‘The Mousetrap’, in order to “catch the conscience of the King”. One actor has been included in every performance since the opening night in 1952 - Deryck Guyler, whose voice recording reads the radio news bulletin in every show at St Martin’s Theatre. In 1954 the play was one of three Christie's running simultaneously in London’s West End, a feat that Agatha Christie was the first female playwright to achieve. In 1997 The Mousetrap Theatre Projects initiative was launched, a charity which helps young people experience London’s theatre, and to which the money from the 25,000th performance was donated. Unlike, say Murder on the Orient Express, no film adaptation will be permitted until the play has finished its run - so we’re still waiting!
A group of strangers, of them a murderer, is stranded in a boarding house called Monkswell Manor during a severe snow-storm. The suspects include a young newly-married couple who run the boarding house, and the suspicions in their minds nearly wreck what appears a perfect marriage. The others are a an elder with a curious background, an architect who seems better equipped to be a chef, a retired army major, a strange man who claims his car overturned in a snowdrift, and a retired lady magistrate. A policeman arrives on skis, the roads being impassible due to the heavy snow, and shortly afterwards the ex-magistrate is murdered. According to the killer’s ‘three blind mice’ hint, there appear to be two further victims in her/his sights. The policeman questions all the guests closely about their background as the tension and fear among the surviving guests and the couple who run the boarding house increases dramatically. His interrogation uncovers various secrets and skeletons in the closet among all of the group. There is a convention that the play’s final plot twist is not supposed to be revealed to others by playgoers who attend performances. My own mother - a big fan of Agatha Christie whodunnits - fell asleep during Act One, and, on waking at the end of the first scene, tried to guess the identity of the murderer before any murder had actually been committed. Hairdressing was wasted on her as a job, I informed her, she ought to have been a sleuth (detective). The reply to her 35-year old son (me) at the time was “Don’t you be so cheeky!
Facilitator: Mike Ingham