Spotlight Show: The Mousetrap
On 25 November 2017, The Mousetrap in London’s West End turned 65 years old, celebrating its blue sapphire anniversary. With over 27,000 performances during that time, it’s the longest-running play in the world! If you’re a fan of this murder mystery or you haven’t seen it yet, learn more about this record-breaking run in our feature, Spotlight Show.
At Great Hall of Monkswell Manor, strangers and a detective come together to solve a murder. But are they snowed in with the culprit?
Based on a 30-minute long radio play by Agatha Christie, the story was originally called Three Blind Mice and was broadcast in 1947 on the BBC. It was in honour of Queen Mary’s 80th birthday who had been offered to enjoy a broadcast of her choice. She requested a brand new play by Agatha, a popular writer at the time.
No one could have imagined that from such short beginnings, could come the longest running play in the world. Agatha’s other works were the basis of successful movies starring the big names of the day, even now Murder on the Orient Express has opened in cinemas this Winter. Mousetrap instead found life on the stage.
The Mousetrap had its premiere at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham before coming to London. It actually opened at the Ambassadors Theatre for the first years of its life before moving around the corner to its permanent home at the St. Martin’s Theatre.
The play was expected to run 14 months by producer Sir Peter Saunders’ estimation, although Agatha’s believed it would only last eight. Of course, both were wrong to the greatest degree anyone could be wrong about anything. It was the longest running play in London within a few years, beating out Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit; he begrudgingly admitted defeat and congratulated Agatha via telegram.
Sir Richard Attenborough and wife Sheila Sim were in the original West End cast and had the incredible foresight to take a 10% profit share – surely one of the soundest business decisions ever. As the show’s run continued, the cast would no longer be made up of star names, in order to keep the focus on the story. The cast would become iconic in its own right – original cast member Deryck Guyler’s voice is used in an audio recording used in the show and has been for every performance since 1952.
With so many performances under its belt and having been seen by millions of people, you’d think that the ending to The Mousetrap would be common knowledge, but the production has its own way of preserving the mystery of the murder. At the end of each show, the cast tell the audience that they are now partners in crime, and they should keep the secret of the story to allow others to discover the identity of the killer. See, it’s not just Harry Potter and the Cursed Child that want you to #KeepTheSecrets.
If you’ve never seen the world’s longest-running play, murder mystery drama The Mousetrap, get your tickets now!
Want more? In Conversation: Company’s Rosalie Craig