Reviewed by Tatum Stafford
As the lights dimmed, the music started to play, and the rich red velvet curtain slowly rose, it was clear we were in for quite the theatrical treat. And as the next two and a half hours unfolded and we met the quirky characters of Agatha Christie’s seminal play ‘The Mousetrap’, the story and talented cast had clearly cast their magic over the audience which spanned many generations.
The play is set in winter 1952, at Monkswell Manor, a lodging 20 miles from London. We are introduced to semi-newlyweds, Mollie Ralston (Anna O’Byrne) and Giles Ralston (Alex Rathgeber), who have just taken ownership of the manor and are opening it as a hotel. A flurry of guests roll in, including Christopher Wren (Laurence Boxhall), Mrs Boyle (Geraldine Turner), Major Metcalf (Adam Murphy), Miss Casewell (Charlotte Friels) and Mr Paravicini (regularly played by Gerry Connolly, but due to illness, was played by Chris Parker). After a murder is committed nearby, and connections are made with the manor, Detective Sergeant Trotter (Tom Conroy) arrives to investigate.
Each performer within this talented ensemble is incredibly committed and engaging. O’Byrne and Rathgeber display plenty of warmth, and fantastic chemistry throughout, Boxhall is an audience favourite for his cheeky grin and expert comic chops, Turner and Murphy work together in fine form, Friels is giving a fantastic performance in her professional debut, and Parker, who stepped into the production with short notice due to cast illness, provided plenty of comic relief. Conroy’s Trotter was suitably stern and displayed impressive patter throughout.
From the outset, this production showcases an absolutely beautiful set, credit to associate set designer (and costume designer) Isabel Hudson. Hudson’s costume work (supervised by Cris Baldwin and design assistant Hannah Tayler) is stunning also, and helps bring these characters to life with impeccable detail and styling.
On top of this, the production is well paced and displays impressive direction from Robyn Nevin, associate direction from Chris Parker (a busy man on Perth’s opening night!), and technical director Frank Harlow. Technical details within the show are carried off without a hitch, so big props to the talented tech team behind lighting, LX, props and stage management.
Without giving too much away, there’s a very special treat during the cast’s curtain call, which makes good use of the phenomenal musical theatre talent within the cast. It felt like the cherry on top of such a fantastic night at the theatre, and according to a few surrounding audience members, it is unique to this Australian production and isn’t echoed within the famously long-running West End production. A big brava to the cast for pulling this off, it was thrilling!
After its opening night here in Perth, it’s abundantly clear why this play is so entrenched (and well decorated) within theatre history. I’d highly recommend snapping up a ticket and experiencing this iconic story for yourself while it’s here.