Please note: this review doesn't contain any spoilers for the who the murderer is, but does contain one spoiler for who the murderer isn't. If you want to remain totally unspoiled, probably best to click away now.
Those of you who follow me on Goodreads
will have noticed that I have been going through a bit of a rereading Agatha Christie phase of late. One of either matgb
or I noticed Louise Jameson tweeting that she was going to be in a touring production of The Mousetrap and as neither of us had seen it we clicked links and discovered that it would be in York the week after our anniversary, and one thing led to another, and we ended up with tickets.
I'm still feeling pretty rough with cold now, and Wednesday I was awful, but I wasn't going to miss this so on Wednesday morning we got on the TPE and headed towards the capital of our nation. We got there early enough to have a pub lunch at the Blue Boar. The food was pretty good value for capital prices, and the barman was pretty, which always helps. We then had a wander round a few shops before going to the theatre.
The theatre itself reminded me very much of the City Varieties in Leeds - all red plush and gold frogging on the seats, and gold angel heads on the boxes. It was smaller than I expected from the name, but still had all the features one would expect of something called The Grand - elaborate boxes and dress circles and a chandelier - although no boxes had their curtains shut, and the chandelier didn't drop down behind us at the end of act 1. It was cold enough for me to keep my coat on, although I don't know how much of that was the theatre, and how much of it was my actually having a cold.
Anyway, as good old Bill said, the play's the thing, so what did I think of the play?
Well, plotwise it was classic Christie, albeit a little simpler than some of her books, having been adapted from a 30 minute radio play initially. Despite womanfully managing not to spoiler myself, I had worked it out before the end of act one, although I doubted my conclusions a couple of times. I loved
the structure of it, starting out mostly farcicial and then getting gradually darker and darker. The murder which occurs before the play being announced on the radio as having been committed by a person of average height wearing a dark coat, a light scarf and a dark felt hat as every single character arrives wearing those things amused me no end.( the slight spoiler mentioned in the intro is under this cut )
Other things which deserve comment: Amy Downham was very convincing as Miss Casewell, and I'd be more specific about why but that'd be spoilery too. The conversation her character has with Mollie about whether one should walk away from or face up to one's past was beautifully done by both of them. I suspect she'll have a long and fruitful career. Gregory Cox, meanwhile, as The Mysterious ForeignerTM
was utterly fabulous; really great physical acting, especially with his hands. He played his outrageous character outrageously, and to great effect.
The set was perfectly designed for all the entrances and exits, although I suspect that's a result of being honed over decades; similarly the lighting and costumes. You all know how much attention I pay to costumes; they were all very well done, especially Miss Casewell's early fifties power dressing, to contrast with Mollie's Vogue pattern house dresses, and Christopher Wren's awful
-yet-so-appropriate mustard yellow cords.
All in all I very much enjoyed it. Lots of laughs; some gasps; some smug feels when the person behind us went "Ohhhhh!" as they worked out what I had worked out half an hour before... I'm very glad we went.9/10
See this if:
- you like a good murderDon't see this if:
- you live in one of the towns the tour is coming to - I'd especially recommend Torquay, for it's local connections to the author
- there's an actor you admire in it
- you're likely to be triggered by reports of child abuse (NB: reported only, not shown)
- you think Agatha Christie is not of merit as an author, as this is pretty typical of her oeuvre
The only other thing I'd like to mention about the day is that if you're in York train station, the lady on the fancy organic coffee stand with the chalkboards just up from platform 4 was really lovely, so that's a good place to get a hot drink.