The Mousetrap, Kings Theatre, Southsea, REVIEW: 'The world’s longest-running stage production, is as polished as anything London’s West End could offer'

The cast of The Mousetrap, touring 2019, which is at the Kings Theatre, October 2019. Picture by Johan Persson
The cast of The Mousetrap, touring 2019, which is at the Kings Theatre, October 2019. Picture by Johan Persson
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FIVE strangers arrive at a remote countryside guest house in the middle of a blizzard. What could possibly go wrong?

In the hands of Agatha Christie, the answer is, of course, plenty.

This touring production of The Mousetrap, the world’s longest-running stage production, is as polished as anything London’s West End could offer.

Come to that, it is as polished as the oak-panelled drawing room in which the action takes place, with clues appearing in every character’s utterance, glance, or item of clothing.

There are the eager newlyweds starting out on their guest house venture, a camp young architect, an old major type, and the kind of old matron beloved of Christie, which allows Susan Penhaligon to give us her best Margaret Rutherford.

A wicked secret lies at the heart of the unravelling mystery.

If you haven’t seen it before, the fun lies in trying to guess whodunnit. If, like me, you have previously been ’trapped, it is just as much fun watching the characters hide what they know.

I promise no plot spoilers, but suffice to say Ms Penhaligon has a busy first half. Not so much in the second.

The ensemble cast is excellent, with David Alcock, Geoff Arnold, Nick Biadon, Lewis Chandler, John Griffiths, Harriet Hare and Saskia Vaigncourt-Strallen sharing the plaudits.

It’s as corny as a corn-on-cob festival in a Cornish cornfield, with the odd whiff of political incorrectness, but as a theatrical tradition alone, it deserves respect.

The first night audience at The Kings loved it, and deservedly so.

Until Saturday.