“It won’t run that long. Eight months perhaps.” —Agatha Christie about the premiere of her play in 1952, The Mousetrap
Twenty-eight thousand and five hundred-plus performances and 70 years later, the show goes on as they say and looks to be going strong for many years to come if our sell-out performance on April 19th this past month is any indication.
With the world premiere taking place at Theatre Royal in Nottingham on October 6, 1952, what we would now call previews, it made its rounds to a handful of theaters and officially debut later that year at Ambassadors Theatre on November 25th, remaining there for 22 years until 1974. It was then that it moved just next door to St. Martin Theatre and has been there ever since.
St. Martin’s Theatre is historic in and of itself as it is still owned by the family whose original owner and builder, the 19th Baron, Lord Willoughby de Broke, passed it down through the family and his grandson who in 2017 celebrated the theatre’s 100th anniversary.
And the theatre is quite a gem. Be sure to view my short video below that gives a real-time moment as we sat in the theatre waiting for all of the audience to arrive.
What amazes me still is how as someone who has read quite a bit of Agatha Christie, currently mainly Hercule Poirot capers, watched all of David Suchet’s Poirot episodes, all of the Miss Marple episodes and both of Kenneth Branagh’s films based on her two most popular long-form mysteries is that I honestly did not know who had ‘dunnit’ as they say until I sat down and watched the play. And don’t worry, I will be sharing no spoilers as I swore, along with the rest of the audience, an oath of secrecy. 🙂
The history of this play astounds as it continues to captivate audiences of all ages, and there were all ages in the theatre, and all were intrigued as made clear during the intermission when strangers began talking to strangers to discuss who they thought had ‘dunnit’.
Well-known actors have starred in the play over the years and it continues to be a play those in the theatre and acting business genuinely hang their hat on to be a part of at some point during their career. From Patrick Stewart to Hugh Bonneville (of Downton Abbey fame) – two names well-known to American audiences, and oodles of actors better-known to Britons, a true testament of its beloved script is the fact that many actors (I use the term actors to include female and male artists) have played different parts throughout their career.
Also, the original set which remains the same throughout both Acts is quite similar as we see it in 2022. Roger Furse was the original designer, and in 1965 Anthony Holland created the set we see today with wood-clad walls encircling the entire space creating a warm countryside manor sense of regality while the winter weather keeps the guests inside (well, most of them). It is interesting to note that the only design piece that was used in the original production in 1952 is the mantelpiece clock, although the leather armchair hung on until 2004.
As Christie’s gift is to throw plausible red herrings steadily along the way to keep the audience wondering, The Mousetrap is no different, and expertly holds the audience’s attention until the revelation of ‘whodunnit’. I would most definitely watch the play again as the cast, whomever is currently starring, doesn’t miss a line, not a misstep was seen, and if you watch closely, so many small hints are revealed if you know prior to beginning the play ‘who dunnit’ which makes it delightful in another way, yet equally enjoyable.
Here is a peek at the plot as shared by St. Martin’s Theatre and London Theatre.
As I shared in this post, we stayed at The Savoy which makes the walk to St. Martin’s Theatre a short few blocks and just 7-10 minutes if you are slowly strolling. Even if visiting London for one night to see a play in the West End, pairing a luxury accommodation with a memorable outing to spend time at a theatre makes for a memory unforgettable.
Purchase tickets for The Mousetrap here.
Explore all of the Posts shared so far in TSLL’s 4th Annual British Week
13 thoughts on “Going to the Theatre: Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap at St. Martin’s Theatre”
Also a fan of Agatha Christie and David Suchet’s Poirot episodes, and anything Kevin Branagh does, I have never seen a stage play of any of her works, well, except a struggling local community theater production. I am sure it was so entertaining as well as momentous. Such a treat and a great memory for you and for your Mother. We are fortunate to have a Summer series Light Opera here that has enriched my appreciation for stage productions. Thank you for sharing the history and the photos of the theatre.
Quite amazing. I’ve seen it so many times and each time it ws a diffetent experience. My husband has refused to accompany me one more time?. By the way it’s Kenneth Branagh not Kevin . (I think he is somewhat like Lord Olivier). Kameela?
I spoke with my partner last week about all of the things I wanted to do during our future UK trip. Two of the things I was most excited for was to see a Shakespeare play performed in the Cotswolds and seeing The Mousetrap. For my partner who hates plays (but doesn’t provide a reason why) – this was apparently one play too many. Pushed to choose between a Shakespearean play and The Mousetrap – I chose the latter. I didn’t learn English as my 2nd language with Shakespeare’s work but I did with Christie’s Poirot and Marple.
Good call, Melissa! 🙂
The first book by Agatha Christie that I read was “Murder on the Links”, when I was 14, on recommendation of my English teacher at the time, to keep my English level sharp during summer. That was many many summer ago, of course, but your comment made me all nostalgic here. Guess I will have to include some Poirot’s and Marple’s derring-do on my reading list for summer 2022… Thank you, Melisa, for a sweet moment. 🙂
Melissa, thank you for sharing and I must say, to see a Shakespeare play in the Cotswolds would be lovely. I had no idea this was an option, so you’ve introduced me to something. ☺️ So happy to hear you saw The Mousetrap and sharing how Poirot and Miss Marple were teachers for you in a way they may not know! ☺️
How fantastic that you experienced this literary jewel ‘in situ’, as it were. Christie based the play’s premise on a current true story. It has stood the test of time, as not merely a vehicle for propelling the current crop of RADA graduates, but as a subtle commentary on current sentiment. Nuances are all. As a person who is a bit of a theatre fan(OK MFA in Theatre..), wow did I love seeing the interior of St. Martin’s Theatre. Thank you Shannon. XXOO Rona
I love Agatha Christie’s novels and I’m fascinated by all the plots that she created. I would love to see this show one day!
What a dream come true!
Strolling from The Savoy to St. Martin’s Theater to watch The Mouse Trap would be a perfect evening in my view. It astounds me that everyone I have heard speak of seeing it, never reveals the ending. A long lover of Christie, I recently had the thrill of introducing my husband (can you believe he has never watched anything?), son, and his girlfriend to her when Death on the Nile was released. They each jumped from suspect to suspect and were all equally surprised by the ending. How can you not be a fan of Agatha Christie after all.
Thanks for sharing!
This play has become a cultural icon on its own and a must-have. And deservedly, in my opinion. It is not just about the play – or the plot -, but about the whole cultural experience, to participate in a process that has been going on for 70 years. How much has the world changed – it is not like 1952, that’s for sure. And yet, there we are – the play is on, the room is full (as much as Covid allows) – so, definitely “diamonds are forever”…
No spoilers, but… well, one can read the book, right?… Just saying. 😉 Yes, I am a fan of Agata Christie and read all her work. My favourite writing piece by Ms. Christie is the novel The Murder of Roger Acroyd, which is brilliant, in my opinion, not only because of the plot but because of the way said plot is delivered to the incautious reader. Sorry for this little bit of “literary review” but in just in case, if there are some fans in the audience today… 🙂
And the fact that St. Martin is a gorgeous theater doesn’t hurt either…
Well done, Shannon, a great memory for you and your mom! 🙂
No apology necessary! Oh! And I too love The Murder of Roger Acroyd. Most definitely, without question, my favorite of her mysteries. Thank you for all that you have shared and for stopping by. ☺️
That just seems like the most lovely evening. I now want to see that play. I really haven’t read much of her work but have been finding myself more interested lately, since you recommended the book that was written about the mysterious time she was missing, can’t remember the name, my daughter has the book now, and that was so good. We have an historic theater in my home town in Virginia and have enjoyed many plays there. Thanks for sharing your trip to England and France, and I’m sure it was wonderful spending that time with your mother. My daughter and I took a trip to France the summer before her senior year, with her French teacher. I wasn’t going to go because of money, but my daughter wanted me to go and I somehow made it happen. It was wonderful and what memories with her and we still talk and laugh about that trip today.
Added to my must do list! I’ve not been to London for some time but taking much inspiration from your trip for what will hopefully be my next visit in 2023. I note looking at the website we should book tickets well in advanced. It looks like such a fun experience !
Being a self proclaimed theater nerd, I’m shocked that I didn’t know about this play. I love Agatha Christie, amazing old architecture, and London. I see a trip in my future 🙂