Theatre Review: Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is still a must-solve mystery 70 years later

The Mousetrap

Calling all budding detectives! There’s been a murder in London and we need your expertise to find the killer before they claim their next victim. Put your wits to the test and feast your eyes on the world’s longest-running play, The Mousetrap.

Born from the incredible mind of Agatha Christie, this genre-defining murder-mystery has astonished audiences across the globe for 70 years, showcasing a captivating narrative that’s sure to keep you guessing on multiple fronts. Set in the midst of a swirling snowstorm, the guests and hosts of Monkswell Manor become stranded inside. With talk of a murder making its way around the guesthouse, panic and suspicion ensures, while the arrival of a police sergeant kicks off a hunt to uncover who the murderer is before they strike again.

As the curtain fell on a night filled with spine-chilling drama, one thing became abundantly clear – this is such a brilliant, intelligently-written story that it’s no wonder it has stood the test of time and remains such a surefire hit. Remarkably well-paced through its classic three act structure, it does an incredible job at keeping you hooked in to the constantly-evolving mystery at hand. Strewn with subtle clues and clever misdirects, this is about as well-crafted as a murder-mystery can get. It’s small in scale, occurring entirely within the one room, although the intricacies in the narrative create a spiral of questions and half-answers that’ll have your mind darting in an attempt to solve it.

Tension runs rampant throughout this production, getting more and more intense as time goes on. Thankfully, moments of levity are cleverly woven into the story and garner huge laughs from the crowd. Some performance-driven and some narrative-driven, with many being very subtle, the comedy beautifully breaks up the uneasy tension that fills the room in the play’s darkest moments. Speaking on the comedy, Laurence Boxhall’s exaggerated performance as Christopher Wren was met by huge laughs and universal praise every time the man strutted onto the stage.

There’s a distinct meta element to this production that I didn’t expect, but one that I greatly appreciated. Akin to how Scream (1996) gets all self-aware with being a slasher film, The Mousetrap cleverly unearths some of its timeless genre tropes before you have a chance to criticise them.

Themes are a key part of Agatha Christie’s writings, and there’s many that play a role in the story of The Mousetrap, but I particularly loved how ideas of doubt seep into the minds of not only the viewers but the characters too. This idea of second-guessing oneself leans into the dramatic tension and overall impact of the narrative, especially as it heads deep into the third act. It’s not a major element, but it’s one that really enhanced the experience for me.

The story is one thing, but it’s the characters and performances that really elevate the material and breathe new life into the timeless tale. Each and every performance from this talented ensemble is undeniably brilliant, with not a single forgettable role in sight. These world-class performances suck you right in to the mystery and their respective characters. Anna O’Byrne is incredible in her role as Mollie Ralston, commanding the stage in almost every moment with an emotion-driven performance. Meanwhile, Tom Conroy is the driving force behind the investigation as Sergeant Trotter, upping the suspense with every line while simultaneously dispelling a sense of calm.

Adam Murphy (The Major), Gerry Connolly (Mr. Paravicini) and Alex Rathgeber (Giles Ralston) each deliver committed performances that had me buying into the authenticity of their characters through every one of their scenes. Rounding out the list with great appearances from both Geraldine Turner (Mrs. Boyle) and Charlotte Friels (Miss Casewell), this is one ensemble I could watch perform endlessly.

Bought to life by Australian theatre icon Robyn Nevin, The Mousetrap is the definition of a must-see show. Actually, scratch that, this is a must-solve show. Ripe with suspense that’ll put you on the edge of your seat, this Agatha Christie narrative is riveting from beginning to end and loaded with characters that are all uniquely compelling. Dust off your dark overcoat, light scarf and soft felt hat and get ready to witness the world-famous mystery that has surprised generation after generation.


The Mousetrap is now playing at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne through to April 26th, 2023. For more information and to purchase tickets, head HERE.

Reviewer attended on Tuesday February 21st, 2023.

Photo credit: Brian Geach