Who Needs To Know The Ending Of ‘The Mousetrap’?

London, The Arts

Wikipedia is getting grief at the moment for revealing the identity of the murderer in Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’ on its site. The Christie estate is said to be outraged. But let’s put this in perspective. ‘The Mousetrap’ has been running for much of the time at the same theatre for 58 years, longer than I’ve been alive. It was a rather tired and old-fashioned piece when it began, and has been clogging up the same building for so long that most of us have been denied the chance to see its interior unless we sit through the play, surrounded by bewildered tourists- virtually the only people who ever go now.

The rules of the play’s licence dictate that only one production can be performed outside the West End per year, thereby giving it an advantage few other shows have. Moreover, the sets and direction never alter, trapping the play in aspic, rather like a worn-out Madame Tussaud’s exhibit someone forgot to throw away. Having sat through the production, I can say it is little more than a licence to steal money from unsuspecting visitors who have English as a second language. It’s virtually unwatchable, badly directed, dull and dated. ‘Legally Blonde’ has a hundred times more wit and panache.

The West End is cursed with several of these old warhorses that plod on through the power of the tourist pound – surely it’s time to lay the ghastly ‘Blood Brothers’ to rest? There’s even a legend about ‘The Mousetrap’ which suggests that tourists who undertip the cab driver outside the theatre get told the identity of the murderer.

Of course you can find out the killer’s identity by looking on Wikipedia, but you can find it just as easily in virtually any bookshop. As a writer I’m opposed to displaying spoilers when, frankly, there’s nothing more to reveal about something than its ending – God knows, ‘The Mousetrap’ is a show by and for those wishing to preserve some dim version of the status quo, and has very little else going for it.

5 comments on “Who Needs To Know The Ending Of ‘The Mousetrap’?”

  1. Allan Lloyd says:

    Chris

    I agree completely about shows clogging up the West End. If I had my way everything by Willy Russell would be on a permanent black list.

    If you want some exciting theatre try “Earthquakes in London” at the Cottesloe. Environmental warnings with a sense of humour and spectacularly innovative set. (Quick disclosure of interesst; I may be slightly biased because my daughter is in it.)

    Allan

    (by the way, loved “Paperboy”. I must be a similar age to you. It brought back many memories of my own childhood)

  2. Jon says:

    To my eternal shame my dad watches The Mousetrap nearly every time he comes to London.

  3. Helen Martin says:

    I saw the front of the theatre at a distance and we considered going but felt we didn’t have theatre money. I have always wondered what it was that made that particular play a tourist’s ‘must-see’. A known author, a lower cost ticket, a ‘safe’ production? It seems to have become iconic, as it has to Jon’s father. Perhaps that should be on the passport page.

  4. Steve says:

    Yes, I believe it has become iconic. That’s why we went to see it several years ago. Personally I didn’t find the plot all that clever.

  5. Helen Martin says:

    I don’t think Dame Agatha considered it anything remarkable, either. Something strange must have happened during the initial run (in which it still is, I believe). It was a time when everyone was avidly reading her books and I don’t think it was ever published as a book, was it?

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