The Mousetrap – Review – Leeds Grand Theatre
By Sandra Callard, August 2023
Agatha Christie’s enduring classic, The Mousetrap, has graced the stage for seven remarkable decades, becoming a theatrical institution in its own right. As the curtains rose at the Leeds Grand Theatre, one couldn’t help but feel the weight of history and the anticipation of witnessing a production that has weathered the test of time. The question lingered: could this milestone anniversary performance possibly live up to its illustrious legacy?
This latest production of The Mousetrap did indeed bring the house down, but opinions on the overall execution were mixed. The story, of course, remains as timeless as ever. The intriguing murder mystery, set in the snowbound Monkswell Manor, unfolded with all the suspense that Agatha Christie’s penmanship demands. Yet, the production’s success hinged heavily on the individual performances.
Certain cast members truly shone, and among them, Rachel Dawson and Michael Hyle stood out like beacons in the night. Dawson, in her role, brought an enchanting depth to her character, capturing the audience’s sympathy and curiosity. Hyle, too, breathed life into his role, making us question every motive and action.
However, the cast faced a peculiar challenge, dealing with a gallery of characters who felt eccentric and strangely unlikeable. While the choice of characterisations may have been deliberate, it sometimes hindered my ability to connect with the suspects, making them seem more caricature than character.
Dawson and Hyle’s performances provided a welcome touch of sanity amidst the eccentricity overload – and Todd Carty’s portrayal of Major Metcalfe was as solid and dependable as you would expect, serving as an anchor in the narrative, although you could hardly call it a stretch for the actor. But even these commendable performances couldn’t entirely redeem the overall peculiarity of the character ensemble.
Agatha Christie is renowned for crafting memorable characters, each with their unique quirks and secrets. However, this particular group of suspects in Monkswell Manor seemed at odds with Christie’s usual calibre of character development. It left one wondering whether this eccentricity was a deliberate departure from Christie’s style or a miscalculation in character execution.
As a devoted admirer of Agatha Christie’s work, I found myself questioning the divergence from her usual narrative brilliance. It seemed I wasn’t alone in my misgivings, as a fellow patron’s disgruntled sentiments confirmed after the tumultuous applause at the end of the performance.
The Mousetrap deserves to continue to captivate audiences – and new takes are essential – but this particular rendition left room for reflection. While certain performers breathed life into their characters, the peculiar eccentricities of the suspects created a curious disconnect. But it’s a testament to Agatha Christie‘s enduring legacy that her work can still spark debate and discussion after 70 years on the stage.
images: Matt Crockett