The Mousetrap

The-Mousetrap-Alex-Rathgeber-Laurence-Boxhall-Anna-O'Byrne-Tom-Conroy-and-Adam-Murphy-photo-by-(c)-Brian-GeachTo paraphrase Noel Coward, his famous line, “Extraordinary how potent a good play is”, came to mind while watching John Frost’s superb production of The Mousetrap.

Written more than 70 years ago, Agatha Christie’s famous play still sparkles and intrigues under Robyn Nevin’s meticulous direction of a cast of accomplished actors who really know how to ‘play the play’ and deliver a line.

Nevin’s casting is unusual in that at least five of her principal actors, Anna O’Byrne, Alex Rathgeber, Geraldine Turner, Adam Murphy and Gerry Connolly are best known for their work in musical theatre. Although none get to sing more than a couple of bars of Three Blind Mice in the play, how Nevin has taken advantage of their musical theatre skills is evidenced in the confident way they move around the stage and their deft delivery of their lines.

Anna O’Byrne and Alex Rathgeber play a young married couple, Mollie and Giles Ralston, who have purchased a grand old mansion which they have just opened as a guest house. Their first guests turn out to be a strange and mysterious lot who all arrive in the midst of a raging snow-storm. As they arrive the radio in the guest lounge is broadcasting the description of a murderer on the run.

Geraldine Turner shines as the guest-from-hell, Mrs Boyle, determined to find fault everywhere. Laurence Boxhall is terrific as the uninhibited and rather annoying young would-be poet, Christopher Wren.

Adam Murphy as the amiable, ex-military Major Metcalf, Katherine Pearson as the mannish young academic, Miss Casewell, and Gerry Connelly relishing the opportunity to exercise his best Jewish accent as the mysterious un-booked guest, Mr. Paravicini, all get moments to shine while proving a testing introduction to the hospitality business for the young couple.

But when one of them is suddenly murdered, and the taciturn Detective Sergeant Trotter, played with panache by Tom Conroy, turns up to investigate, they discover that none is exempted from suspicion, and the guessing game begins.

Set in the time it was written, the 1950’s, the entire play takes place in the one superbly detailed setting. Eschewing stage tricks and gimmicks Nevin has concentrated on Christie’s text, and obviously encouraged her cast to investigate every one of Agatha Christie’s carefully crafted lines to mine for fresh nuances to bring to their characterisations.

Observing their success in capturing their laughs with well-placed and cleverly timed lines rather than relying on stage business is one of many delights of this production. The care and attention devoted to insuring the correctness of the handsome set, the costumes and props; even the reminder of how affective a simple drop of the front curtain is in separating each act, all contribute to the appreciation of the brilliance of Christie’s writing and why this play has continued to delight audiences over the decades.

And if you thought the big surprise of the night was learning the identity of the murderer, then you’re in for an even bigger surprise when the cast add something special that I doubt any other Mousetrap cast in the world could duplicate.

The Mousetrap
Canberra Theatre – Canberra Theatre Centre, Civic Square, London Circuit, Canberra
Performance: Friday 12 May 2023
Season: 12 – 21 May 2023

Following the Canberra season, The Mousetrap will play the Playhouse- QPAC, Brisbane from 25 May; and the Riverside Theatres, Parramatta from 15 June 2023. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: The Cast of The Mousetrap – photo by Brian Geach

Review: Bill Stephens OAM