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The Mousetrap opened in the West End of London in 1952, and has been running continuously since then. It has by far the longest initial run of any play in history, with its 25,000th performance taking place on 18 November 2012. The play is also known for its twist ending, which the audience are traditionally asked not to reveal after leaving the theatre.
The play is based on a short story, itself based on the radio play, but Christie asked that the story not be published as long as it ran as a play in the West End of London.
The short story has still not been published within the United Kingdom but it has appeared in the United States in the 1950 collection Three Blind Mice and Other Stories. When she wrote the play, Christie gave the rights to her grandson Matthew Prichard as a birthday present. In the United Kingdom, only one production of the play in addition to the West End production can be performed annually, and under the contract terms of the play, no film adaptation can be produced until the West End production has been closed for at least six months.
It was originally directed by Peter Cotes, elder brother of John and Roy Boulting, the film directors. The London run has now exceeded 25,000 performances. Christie herself did not expect The Mousetrap to run for such a long time. In her autobiography, she reports a conversation that she had with Peter Saunders: Yes, I think eight months.
The late Deryck Guyler can still be heard, via a recording, reading the radio news bulletin in the play to this present day. The set was changed in 1965 and 1999, but one prop survives from the original opening — the clock which sits on the mantelpiece of the fireplace in the main hall. On 18 November 2012, both the 25,000th performance and the 60th year of the production were marked by a special charity performance which featured Hugh Bonneville, Patrick Stewart , Julie Walters and Miranda Hart.
The money raised by the performance went towards Mousetrap Theatre Projects. Christopher Wren — The first guest to arrive at the hotel, Wren is a hyperactive young man who acts in a very peculiar manner. He admits he is running away from something, but refuses to say what. Wren claims to have been named after the architect of the same name by his parents.
Mrs Boyle — A critical older woman who is pleased by nothing she observes. Major Metcalf — Retired from the army, little is known about Major Metcalf. Miss Casewell — A strange, aloof, masculine woman who speaks offhandedly about the horrific experiences of her childhood. Mr Paravicini — A man of unknown provenance, who turns up claiming his car has overturned in a snowdrift. He appears to be affecting a foreign accent and artificially aged with make-up.
Detective Sergeant Trotter — The detective role during the play. He arrives in a snow storm and questions the proprietors and guests. By tradition, at the end of each performance, audiences are asked not to reveal the identity of the killer to anyone outside the theatre, to ensure that the end of the play is not spoiled for future audiences. The action then moves to Monkswell Manor, recently converted to a guesthouse and run by a young couple, Mollie and Giles Ralston.
The inexperienced Ralstons are nervous to be hosting their first guests but determined to make a go of things. While waiting for the guests to begin arriving, Mollie listens to a radio report about the Lyon murder, which notes that police are looking for a man in a dark overcoat who was observed near the scene. Their first four guests, all of whom have made their travel arrangements via letter, arrive. Christopher Wren is an unkempt, flighty young man who tells Mollie that he is an architect, named as he is because his parents hoped for him to be like Christopher Wren.
Giles and Mollie both react strongly to Wren, Giles with instant dislike and Mollie with instant, instinctual trust. Mrs Boyle and Major Metcalf then arrive together, having shared a taxi from the railway station. In contrast, Metcalf is an amiable ex-military man. Miss Casewell, a mannish young woman, is the last of the arranged guests to arrive, but just as the company is settling down, an unexpected fifth party arrives.
Identifying himself in a foreign accent as Mr Paravicini, he tells the Ralstons that his car has overturned in a snowdrift. He notes that the snow has rendered roads impassable and that the denizens of the house are essentially trapped. Scene II opens the next afternoon. The guest house is, indeed, snowed in, and the residents are somewhat restless.
Mollie answers the telephone and is surprised to find herself speaking to Superintendent Hogben of the Berkshire Police. Hogben tells her that he is dispatching a man named Sergeant Trotter to the guest house, and that the Ralstons must listen carefully to what Trotter has to tell them. Apprehensively, the Ralstons try to think of what they could have done to garner police attention, but can come up with nothing sufficiently serious.
Though the Ralstons doubt that anyone could get through the snow, a tap on the window proves them wrong, bringing a friendly young man on skis who identifies himself as Detective Sergeant Trotter.
Trotter and Giles return and Trotter explains his purpose to the household: The couple had fostered three children named Corrigan, two boys and a girl, but had mistreated the children so severely that the youngest boy had died. After the remaining children were rescued from the Stanning farm, officialdom had lost track of them; the girl was adopted by an unknown family, and the elder boy joined the army, deserted, and then disappeared.
Both Mr and Mrs Stanning were sentenced to prison for their actions; the husband died there, while the wife had served her sentence and been released, only to be found strangled.
Based on what little they know about the remaining Corrigan children, police suspect the elder boy, who would now be twenty-two, of being the killer. The reason Trotter is interested in Monkswell Manor, he reveals, is that a notebook was found at the scene of the murder containing two addresses: With nothing else to go on, Trotter turns to the guests and asks each of them to explain how they have come to be at Monkswell Manor and what their connection to the Corrigans is.
All five guests deny any personal knowledge of the Corrigan case. Trotter and Giles set off on a tour of the house, while the guests remain in the sitting room to discuss the alarming turn of events. Mrs Boyle takes this in stride, acknowledging its truth but denying that she has any responsibility for what eventually happened to the children there. As the evening wears on, the household cannot rest easy.
Giles and Mollie become suspicious of each other while the guests snipe at one another. He goes offstage, tracing the phone wire to find out if it has been cut.
Mrs Boyle wanders back into the now-empty room and begins listening to the radio. Suddenly, the lights go out and a scuffle is heard.
Moments later, Mollie walks into the room and turns on the lights, only to find Mrs Boyle dead on the floor. All the remaining residents are gathered in one room as he attempts to sort out the events of the evening. A shaken Mollie Ralston cannot provide him with any useful clues; the only thing she is sure she observed was the radio blaring. Frustrated, Trotter points out that their lives continue to be in danger; a third murder could very well happen, given the notes left with Maureen Lyon.
He insists that everyone tell him where they were when Mrs Boyle was murdered. As each person recounts his or her whereabouts, Trotter takes them to account for inconsistencies or weaknesses in their stories. Finally, he declares that everyone in the house had the opportunity to commit the murder, since each of them was alone at the time.
Giles counters that while seven people in the house lack alibis, only one fits the description of the man the police suspect to be the murderer: Wren insists that it is all a frame-up, and Trotter acknowledges that he lacks any evidence pointing to Wren in particular. Mollie later pulls Trotter aside; Trotter tells him that police suspect the elder boy to be the killer, the dead boy also had relatives and loved ones who might be interested in revenge: Trotter notes that Metcalf or Paravicini could the father, Miss Casewell or Mollie could be the sister, and Giles could be the elder boy.
Mollie soon finds herself in conversation with Christopher Wren, who confesses that he is actually an Army deserter hiding from his past under a false name. Mollie acknowledges that she, too, is running away from her past.
Despite the trust Christopher and Mollie are forming, he and Giles each suspect the other and nearly come to blows over Mollie. Each person is to go to his or her assigned position and stay there until summoned back by Trotter. The household obediently disperses, leaving Trotter alone onstage.
Identity of the Murderer After the role-players scatter, Trotter sits for a moment before calling for Mollie. He tells her that she has risked extreme danger by not identifying herself to him; he now knows that she was once the schoolteacher of the doomed Corrigan children.
She failed to answer a letter the younger boy sent her at the time, begging to be rescued from the farm. Mollie protests that she had been seriously ill when the letter arrived, and was unable to even read it until well after the boy was dead. To this day, she says, she is haunted by her failure to help the children out of their circumstances. Trotter takes a gun out of his pocket and points it at Mollie, telling her that though she assumed he was a policeman, she only believed that because he had rung up beforehand, playing the role of his own superintendent.
Trotter is, in fact, Georgie, the elder Corrigan brother, and he intends to take his revenge on Mollie. Falling back into the demeanour of a wounded child who never grew up, he drops his gun and begins to strangle her, but is stopped by the sudden appearance of Miss Casewell. Casewell calls him by name and reveals that she is Kathy, his long-lost sister, come to take him somewhere safe. Film Versions In 1959 it was announced producer Edward Small, who had brought Witness for the Prosecution to the screen, was to make a film version of the play in co-production with Victor Saville for United Artists.
In 1960, the Bengali author Premendra Mitra directed a film Chupi Chupi Aashey, based on the radio play and short story. This uncredited adaptation is possibly the only notable film version of The Mousetrap. The script by Vladimir Basov Jr. References Marsden, Sam 18 Nov 2012. The Daily Telegraph London.
Retrieved November 19, 2012. Agatha Christie — Murder in Four Acts. Page 118 Collins, 1972. Agatha Christie, A Biography. Retrieved 7 June 2009. Antiques Trade Gazette, Issue 2003, 20 August 2001, page 14.