The Mousetrap has, after sixty years in the West End, gone on what its producers are billing its “first ever UK tour.” That ignores entirely the history of the play which, before it ever reached the West End, was premiered at Nottingham Theatre Royal, then played six further regional dates (Oxford, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds and Birmingham) on a pre-West End tour, before arriving at the Ambassadors.
I caught the first matinee of the tour earlier this week at Canterbury’s new Marlowe Theatre, which was almost entirely rebuilt on the same site that a theatre of that name has occupied in a former 1930s Odeon Cinema since 1984 and which re-opened in a brand-new building last year.
No such internal or external refurbishments, however, have happened to the venerable warhorse of The Mousetrap, which — after it was originally revealed that this production would be directed by Angus Jackson — saw it merely put a new version of the West End original back onstage, directed by Ian Watt Smith, who directed the 58th and 59th years in London. Anthony Holland’s 1965 set has also been replicated, and even one London cast member is back: Jan Waters, who first played Mrs Boyle in 2001 and has played her three times in the West End since.
I saw it on my birthday on Wednesday, which happened to be my 50th, and I now feel like I’m rapidly closing the gap with The Mousetrap, which when I first saw it in the early 80s had only been running for around 30 years, when I was only twenty myself. How time flies!