I had a bit of a déjà vu moment at Buxton Opera House last night. Before leaving home I swore blind I had never seen The Mousetrap but when the curtain went up I suddenly had a few doubts. It did all seem a bit familiar but I argued I had probably seen the set in pictures.
At the interval I was pretty certain I knew the famously secret ending but despite that I definitely felt I was seeing the Agatha Christie play for the first time.
It wasn’t until I returned home and checked my past reviews that I could confirm my suspicions – I had seen it before – at Chesterfield 18 months ago.
All I can say is that my confusion must be testament to skills of director Ian Watt-Smith and the cast, all but one who were new this time around, in persuading me that I was watching it for the very first time.
Now, in the interests of being consistent and saving some time, I am going to repeat some of what I said in my previous review.
This is a murder mystery in the finest sense of the word.
Eight characters are brought together by circumstance and a snowstorm at Monkswell Manor Guest House.
The lovely hosts Mollie Ralston, played by Esther McAuley and her husband Giles, Alex Wadham, welcome the strange assortment of guests to their hotel – the loud practical joker and architect Christopher Wren, Edward Elgood; the grouchy old magistrate Mrs Boyle, Anne Kavanagh (the one person who was in the first version I saw); the frosty and rather brusque Miss Casewell, Hester Arden and the mysterious Major Metcalf, William Ilkley.
Arriving out of the blue and without a booking is the somewhat artificial foreign Mr Paravicini, Jonathan Sidgwick, and, making one of the most notorious stage entrances in theatre on a set of skis is Det Sgt Trotter played by Luke Jenkins.
This production has a tremendous set befitting of a play that has graced the West End and there is no faulting the professional cast put together by the director.
Once again the part of the mustard-trouser-wearing, creepily bouncy Christopher Wren was played excellently and Jonathan Sidgwick was a glorious Mr Paravicini.
Just before the final curtain drops a member of the cast asks the audience to keep the ending a secret and everyone still loves to play along despite the onset of the internet and social media.
As I left the Opera House I heard one woman insist to her friend that the cast change the ending every night so that no-one can be certain what is going to happen. I am not going to enlighten you any further but that is a delightful idea.
The play is a wonderful example of Britishness and if you go along in the right frame of mind ready to join in the event –because it really is more of an event than a night at the theatre – then you will have a fantastic time.
The Mousetrap is on in Buxton until November 7. For tickets go to http://www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk