(Imported from the Mousetrap entry in the main wikipedia)
The Mousetrap is a murder mystery play by Agatha Christie. The Mousetrap opened in the West End of London in 1952, and has been running continuously since then. It has the longest initial run of any play in history, with over 24,000 performances so far. It is the longest running show (of any type) of the modern era. The play is also known for its twist ending, which at the end of every performance the audience is asked not to reveal.
History of the playModifier
The play began life as a short radio play broadcast on 30 May 1947 called Three Blind Mice in honour of Queen Mary, the consort of King George V. The play had its origins in the real-life case of the death of a boy, Dennis O'Neill, who died whilst in the foster care of a Shropshire farmer and his wife in 1945.
The play is based on a short story, itself based on the radio play, but Christie asked that the story not be published as long as it ran as a play in the West End of London. The short story has still not been published within the United Kingdom but it has appeared in the United States in the 1950 collection Three Blind Mice and Other Stories.
When she wrote the play, Christie gave the rights to her grandson Mathew Prichard as a birthday present. Outside of the West End, only one version of the play can be performed annually and under the contract terms of the play, no film adaptation can be produced until the West End production has been closed for at least six months.
The play had to be renamed at the insistence of Emile Littler who had produced a play called Three Blind Mice in the West End before the Second World War. The suggestion to call it The Mousetrap came from Christie's son-in-law, Anthony Hicks. In Shakespeare's play Hamlet, "The Mousetrap" is Hamlet's answer to Claudius's inquiry about the name of the play whose prologue and first scene the court has just observed (III, ii). The play is actually The Murder of Gonzago, but Hamlet answers metaphorically, since "the play's the thing" in which he intends to "catch the conscience of the king."
The play's longevity has ensured its popularity with tourists from around the world, and in 1997, with producer Stephen Waley-Cohen, it helped spawn a theatrical education charity, Mousetrap Theatre Projects, which helps young people experience London's theatre.
As a stage play, The Mousetrap had its world premiere at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham on 6 October 1952. It was originally directed by Peter Cotes, elder brother of John and Roy Boulting, the film directors. Its pre-West End tour then took it to the New Theatre Oxford, the Manchester Opera House, the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, the Grand Theatre Leeds and the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham before it began its run in London on 25 November 1952 at the New Ambassadors Theatre. It ran at this theatre until Saturday, 23 March 1974 when it immediately transferred to the St Martin's Theatre, next door, where it reopened on Monday, 25 March thus keeping its "initial run" status. As of 10 April 2008 it has clocked up a record-breaking 23,074 performances, with the play still running at St Martin's Theatre. The director of the play for many years has been David Turner.
The original West End cast included Richard Attenborough as Detective Sergeant Trotter and his wife Sheila Sim as Mollie Ralston. Since the retirement of Mysie Monte and David Raven, who each made history by remaining in the cast for more than 11 years, in their roles as Mrs Boyle and Major Metcalf, the cast has been changed annually. The change usually occurs around late November around the anniversary of the play's opening, and was the initiative of Sir Peter Saunders, the original producer. There is a tradition of the retiring leading lady and the new leading lady cutting a "Mousetrap cake" together.
The play has also made theatrical history by having an original "cast member" survive all the cast changes since its opening night. The late Deryck Guyler can still be heard, via a recording, reading the radio news bulletin in the play to this present day. The set has been changed in 1965 and 1999, but one prop survives from the original opening – the clock which sits on the mantelpiece of the fire in the main hall.
Notable milestones in the play's history include:
- 22 April 1955 – 1,000th performance
- 13 September 1957 – Longest-ever run of a "straight" play in the West End
- 12 April 1958 – Longest-ever run of a show in the West End with 2239 performances (the previous holder was Chu Chin Chow)
- 9 December 1964 – 5,000th performance
- 17 December 1976 – 10,000th performance
- 16 December 2000 – 20,000th performance
In May 2001 (during the London production's 49th year, and to mark the 25th anniversary of Christie's death) the cast gave a semi-staged Sunday performance at the Palace Theatre, Westcliff-on-Sea as a guest contribution to the Agatha Christie Theatre Festival 2001, a twelve-week history-making cycle of all of Agatha Christie's plays presented by Roy Marsden's New Palace Theatre Company.
A staging at the Toronto Truck Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, that opened on 19 August 1977 became Canada's longest running show, before finally closing on 18 January 2004 after a run of twenty-six years and over 9,000 performances.
The Genesian Theatre in Sydney, Australia recently announced a new production of The Mousetrap to be staged at their Kent St location from 1st September to 15th October 2011 to celebrate the 60th season of the West End run.
The story is about a young couple, Mollie and Giles Ralston, who have started up a new hotel in the converted Monkswell Manor. They are snowed in together with four guests and an additional traveller, who ran his car into a snowdrift. Detective Sergeant Trotter arrives on skis to inform the group that he believes a murderer is on his way to the hotel, following the death of Mrs Maureen Lyon in London.
When one of the guests – Mrs Boyle – is killed, they realise that the murderer is already there. The suspicion falls first on Christopher Wren, an erratic young man who fits the description of the supposed murderer. However, it quickly transpires that the killer could be any one of the guests, or even the hosts themselves.
- Mollie Ralston – Proprietor of Monkswell Manor, and wife of Giles.
- Giles Ralston – Husband of Mollie who runs Monkswell Manor with his wife.
- Christopher Wren – The first guest to arrive at the hotel, Wren is a hyperactive young man who is depicted as acting in a very peculiar manner. He admits he is running away from something, but refuses to say what. Wren claims to have been named after the architect of the same name by his parents.
- Mrs Boyle – A critical older woman who is pleased by nothing she observes.
- Major Metcalf – Retired from the army, little is known about Major Metcalf.
- Miss Casewell – A strange, aloof, masculine woman who speaks offhandedly about the horrific experiences of her childhood.
- Mr Paravicini – A man of unknown provenance. He appears to be affecting a foreign accent and artificially aged with make-up.
- Detective Sergeant Trotter – A policeman who arrives in a snow storm to protect the guests from the murderer.
The play was published as a paperback by Samuel French Ltd as French's Acting Edition No. 153 in 1954 and is still in print. It was first published in hardback in The Mousetrap and Other Plays by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1993 (ISBN 0-39-607631-9) and in the UK by Harper Collins in 1993.
- ↑ Haining, Peter. Agatha Christie – Murder in Four Acts. (Page 23).Virgin Books, 1990. ISBN 1-85227-273-2
- ↑ Saunders, Peter. The Mousetrap Man. (Page 118) Collins, 1972. ISBN 0-00-211538-7
- ↑ Morgan, Janet. Agatha Christie, A Biography. (Page 291) Collins, 1984 ISBN 0-00-216330-6.
- ↑ Modèle:Cite web
- ↑ Modèle:Cite web
- ↑ http://www.genesiantheatre.com.au/index.php?mode=view&s=2011&i=3
- ↑ Christie, Agatha. The Mousetrap and Other Plays. Signet, 2000. ISBN 0451201140