The longest running play in the world is… Not exactly the most enthralling.
Agatha Christie’s famous play introduces Mollie Ralston, who runs the Monkswell Manor guesthouse with her husband, Giles. Their first guests arrive at the manor on a very snowy day, and they all end up snowed in together. When a police detective arrives, they find that a murderer is suspected to be in the area, which drives tension up considerably. Then one of the guests, the rather unpleasant Mrs. Boyle, is killed and they realize that one of their number is the murderer.
The play is famed for the twist at the ending, but I have to admit that it wasn’t that great a shock to me. I’d guessed the murderer early on but got distracted by the thought of “no, it can’t be that easy…” and changed my mind. Haha (Read too many Agatha Christie books, I have.)
There was some pretty good sound design, which was especially well deployed whenever the front door or the windows were opened – the sounds of the wind really added to the stuck-in-a-snowstorm feel. Overall I thought the production design was pretty good, though there was nothing amazing. (How do you beat stuff like The Lion King and Les Mis? You can’t. Those had scope for some ingenious design work, but more “realistic” or modern settings don’t often provide that opportunity – nor do they need it.)
I thought the first act was a bit draggy. It was like a very long introduction scene, with far too little drama happening. The second act was markedly better as the wheels started turning and more interesting stuff started to come to light. Perhaps the single setting of the Great Hall at Monskwell Manor was a bit limiting as well – it forced everything into mere conversation, with minimal action beyond pacing, standing, and sitting. And going in and out of the hall.
But that is Christie’s style, I suppose. Her Poirot and Miss Marple are not the most active of detectives. Christie’s mystery books do feature lots of conversations… So the style of the play is to be expected. If the dialogue had been a bit more engaging, and if the pace had been quicker, I think The Mousetrap would’ve been a great deal more interesting.