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Agatha Christie's iconic Mousetrap comes to Dartford

PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 August 2019

Susan Penhaligon couldn't resist starring in The Mousetrap after reading most of Christie's books. Picture: John McKay

Susan Penhaligon couldn't resist starring in The Mousetrap after reading most of Christie's books. Picture: John McKay

Archant

It's hard to believe, but classic whodunnit The Mousetrap has been around for almost 70 years.

A moody Susan Penhaligon as Mrs Boyle. Picture: Johan PerssonA moody Susan Penhaligon as Mrs Boyle. Picture: Johan Persson

Agatha Christie's enduring mystery is coming to The Orchard, Dartford, in September and for some, that will be the ideal chance to see what the fuss was all about.

And we are not about to reveal who really did it.

First seen in Nottingham in 1952 starring Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim, The Mousetrap went on to become the world's longest running stage production following its West End transfer to The Ambassadors in 1952 and St Martins in 1973 where it has played ever since, continuing a record-breaking run with over 27,500 performances in London so far.

The beloved murder mystery returns to the road following the success of the first UK tour in 2012.

This version stars Susan Penhaligon as Mrs Boyle.

She is well-known for her role in the ITV drama Bouquet of Barbed Wire, and for playing Helen Barker in the ITV sitcom A Fine Romance.

The premise these days is almost a cliché. A snow storm closes in on the newly opened guest house, Monkswell Manor. But a murderer is on the loose.

Guests arrive one by one, and Christie weaves her magic. As we meet each character we are drawn further into the world of intrigue and misdirection.

Of course, Monkswell Manor is cut off from the outside world and of course that pesky murderer is already in their midst. As guests die off, can the killer be found before they all perish?

Susan said: "I never thought I'd be in The Mousetrap. I've been in two of Agatha Christie's other plays - And Then There Were None and a little known one called Verdict - but I'd never seen The Mousetrap or read it.

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"When the part came up, I read the play and I thought 'wow', it's funny, tense, has great characters, brilliant plot, and what struck me was that it was based on a real event - chilling really.

"Agatha Christie is so clever, there's always truthful emotion in her plays. She's the second most read English writer after Shakespeare so she must have done something right.

"I am an Agatha Christie fan.

"I've read most of her books and I've read her biography. I think she's fascinating. This is a great story. A guessing game of a whodunnit and a brilliant one at that.

"I like Mrs Boyle because she says it as it is, she doesn't hold back.

"She's the type of woman who is used to being in control of situations. Probably to make herself feel safe. I don't think she feels safe in The Mousetrap. She's funny too.

"It's a perfect plot, it's vintage with very recognisable period characters and it's spooky. It's great quality entertainment. I think it's interesting to see an original play of hers, on the stage, rather than on TV, particularly as it was written for the theatre. It's a different animal.

"But I think nowadays, because of the many TV Agathas, audiences are familiar with the world they are entering. The pact between actors and audience is made the moment the curtain goes up. I'm sure they think 'Ah, we know where we are with this one' and they relax. And the great thing is, no one knows who the murderer is. Unless you've been before."

When the Mousetrap opened on November 25, 1952, it was only seven years after Hitler died. Essential foods were still rationed, Winston Churchill was prime minister, Harry Truman was president of the United States, and Stalin was ruler of Russia. There was fighting in Korea, and Princess Elizabeth began her long reign as Queen. The last tram ran in London, television programmes ended at 10.30pm, and the entire TV listings was three and a half lines.

The Mousetrap is at The Orchard Theatre from September 16-21. Tickets are available from https://orchardtheatre.co.uk/

or 01322 220 000.

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