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Review: Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: April 08, 2014

By Jonathan Whiley

Michael Fenner (Mr Paravicini) by Dave Wise - Low Res

Michael Fenner (Mr Paravicini) by Dave Wise - Low Res

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A KILLER is on the loose. Six suspects stand in the drawing room of a country manor hotel. Was it the suave Italian man of mystery Mr Paravicini who arrived amid a snow drift in the dead of night?

Perhaps it was Major Metcalf who crept up from the cellar in the darkness or do all the roads point to the eccentricities of young Christopher Wren with his

schizophrenic-like tendencies?

Either way, they’re rats in a trap. The Mousetrap, that is.

The longest-running show in the history of British theatre, it’s currently on a diamond anniversary tour of the UK and on this deliciously macabre outing you’d be a damn fool to miss out.

Little wonder Agatha Christie’s books were only outstripped by the Bible and the works of Shakespeare at the time of her death.

Everything she touches in the whodunnit genre plays out to perfection; drama that has you shuffling to the edge of your seat like a nosey neighbour twitching for a better glimpse from behind the curtains.

The drama ebbs and flows here; the storytelling smooth and the suspense is ratcheted up slowly but surely.

Plot devices are deployed subtly and cleverly throughout – a hotel wireless provides context in the way a narrator would – and there are dramatic parallels and red herrings liberally scattered.

A sinister sub-plot bubbles beneath and the characterisation created by Christie allows a terrific set of actors to fill her extrovert creations with relish; quirkier elements of their personalities a mere hint at their capacity for murder.

Two stand out above all others. Michael Fenner is superb as Mr Paravacini with his gravelly Italian accent delivered with gusto and perfect comic timing throughout.

Meanwhile, Anna Kavanagh plays her acerbic and snobbish character of Mrs Boyle brilliantly with her social critique of society

adding lighter elements even in the darkest of places.

At times this play is Cluedo-esque with the grandeur of a well-designed stage acting as the board as the characters roll the dice. But there are also elements that remind me of a murder mystery weekend such is the involvement and engagement you feel.

The discussions in the interval suggest that the appetite for a murder mystery, in the same way the British public love a crossword, is as ferocious as ever.

True to the tradition of The Mousetrap my lips are sealed to the twists and turns and the ending – which I felt was a little anti-climatic in light of the drama that comes before – but let me sure you the journey is one worth taking.

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