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Is there a play more iconic than The Mousetrap? The beautiful Theatre Royal (which has had an incredibly good line-up of shows this year) played host to the opening night of the Australian iteration of Agatha Christie’s classic. The play, which takes place in the Great Hall of a Monkswell Manor in a post-WW2 Britain, actually bears a lot of similarities to the present day. As Australia emerges out of 2 years of pandemic lockdowns and stasis, Britain was in a somewhat similar state at the time of Christie’s writing (although with perhaps a more pessimistic outlook). Regardless, the melancholy of the setting perhaps gave the audiences something to identify with when seeing the iconic show.
The crowd for opening night was packed to the rafters with not a spare seat in the stalls. The curtain raised to rapturous applause to reveal the manor, beautiful decorated to complement the shape of the theatre. The challenge of performing in such a large venue, perhaps designed more for musical theatre than a conventional play, is that the actors had a lot of room and space to fill, both physically and in terms of their projection. The cast was up to the challenge making the audience feel as though the space was a lot more intimate than it actually was, which went a long way to ensuring the success of the play.
Led by Robyn Nevin and produced John Frost AM, the cast featured a who’s-who of established and upcoming theatre stars, including Geraldine Turner OAM, Gerry Connolly and Alex Rathgeber. Interestingly, a number of the cast had backgrounds in opera (which probably goes some way to explaining the fabulous projection) which led to a wonderful surprise at the end of the production (I won’t spoil it!) Laurence Boxhall shone as the eccentric Christopher Wren while Anna O’Byrne’s performance as Mollie Ralston was also a highlight, with her layered portrayal acting as the structure which held the show together. The chemistry between the cast was fabulous and while Boxhall and O’Byrne particularly stood out the entire ensemble was incredibly strong, with the quality of their respective talents shining through. The rapturous applause at every scene change was a testament to how much the audience appreciated the quality of the production they were seeing in front of them.
A lot of the credit must also go to Christie’s manuscript itself. It is really clear to see why the play has stood the test of time. It has all the elements of a classic whodunnit but with even more twists and a little bit of extra zest here and there. The audible gasps throughout the play were a credit to the actors on stage but also to the play. It is a fabulous work.
The lighting and soundtrack were also fabulous, very much adding to the ambiance of the play. There were some sound and microphone issues on occasion, especially when characters were speaking from off-stage but this was largely fine. The set was also ornate and added beautifully to the action on stage. Overall, this was a wonderful play which is definitely worth a view during its short season in Sydney.
The Mousetrap plays at the Theatre Royal until October 30. Tickets are available here.