I’ve grown up on Agatha Christie’s whodunits. In my teenage, I sat frantically reading her novels late into the night. Occasionally I’d close the book, and try to guess the murderer, who in the next few pages would be deftly declared innocent with a rock-solid alibi. Fuming, I’d read on – never guessing who it was till the end, till Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot or one of Agatha Christie’s clever characters solved the mystery and ended the agony. That was speed reading at its best – you couldn’t finish the book, you could not sneak a peek into the last few pages, you had to sit through the book and suffer the suspense – so you tried to read it as fast as you could. That was Agatha Christie for me, and I am sure for a lot of fans.
Agatha Christie became a Dame of the British Empire in 1971; her books have sold billions of copies around the world – more than any other author, after The Bible. She died on the 12th January 1976 aged 85. At one point she had three plays running at the same time in the West End, a feat never matched by any other woman. She was as successful as a playwright as she was as a novelist. Her most famous characters are Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.
And now Agatha Christie’s longest running play is coming to India. For me it’s the building up of the suspense all over again. I’ve read the play but now I am going to see it in action. The plot is simple. It’s a guesthouse. Snowbound. Which means no one can enter nor can anyone leave. And a murder takes place. Who would you suspect? Probably every one right? Right…
There’s so much history to this production that I cannot miss telling you all about it. Here are 7 important things that makes this a must-watch
The Mousetrap is unique. It sets a new world record every day for the number of performances. Over the last 66 years, over 466 actors and 276 understudies have appeared in more than 27,000 performances of the London production of this thrilling whodunit written by the peerless “Queen of Mystery”, Agatha Christie.
Originally a Radio Play
It was originally written by Agatha Christie as a short radio play “Three Blind Mice” to celebrate the 80th birthday of the late Queen Mary.
27 Languages in more than 50 countries
The Mousetrap has also been presented in 27 different languages in more than 50 countries. There is rarely a night without a performance somewhere in the world.
60 productions on its 60th Anniversary
On 25th November 2002, The Mousetrap celebrated its golden jubilee with a 50th Birthday Gala Performance attended by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, together with a throng of former cast members. Lord (Richard) Attenborough gave the famous curtain speech exactly 50 years since he first delivered it in London: “Now you have seen The Mousetrap you are our partners in crime, and we ask you to preserve the tradition by keeping the secret of whodunit locked in your hearts.”
To celebrate the 60th Anniversary there were 60 productions licensed around the world in places as diverse as Australia, Turkey, France, Russia, China, South Africa, Korea and the USA. Also, the first UK Tour of The Mousetrap started in Canterbury in September 2012 and continued to December 2016.3 entries in the Guinness Book
The Mousetrap has three entries in the Guinness Book of Records, including: for the ‘longest continuous run of any show in the world’; ‘most durable’ actor (David Raven, who played Major Metcalf for 4,575 performances from 22nd July 1957 until 23rd November 1968); and ‘longest serving understudy’ (Nancy Seabrooke, who stood by as Mrs Boyle 6,240 times until 12th March 1994, and actually did so 72 times).
Rights owned by Agatha Christie’s grandson
Agatha Christie gave the rights to The Mousetrap to her nine-year old grandson, Mathew Prichard, before it opened, without having any idea of the extraordinary phenomenon it would become. In recent years he has donated them to the benefit of charities for the arts and other causes especially in Wales. Mathew Prichard CBE is Chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd.
Peter Saunders, the original producer of The Mousetrap and of many other Agatha Christie plays was knighted in 1982 for services to the theatre; and died in 2003. In March 1956, Peter Saunders sold the film rights, but shrewdly added the proviso that the film could not be released until six months after the end of the West End run. The film has yet to be made. In 1994 Sir Peter handed over his responsibilities to a new company, Mousetrap Productions, under the management of Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen.
So what’s the point of all this information?
For me, simply FOMO*! There’s no way out. I don’t want to miss this opportunity in the world. Oh yes, I can see it in London but… an Uber to NCPA may just be a tad more convenient and many tads more memorable. I am so going. What about you? Or is that a secret?
The Mousetrap will be performed at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, NCPA, from 5th-9th December, 2018. Tickets available at the venue and on www.bookmyshow.com
*Fear Of Missing Out