Who knows why Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” now playing at the Village Theatre’s Everett location and running through April 24, became the world’s longest running play. When it opened in London on October 6, 1952 Christie herself gave the show eight months to run. But it continues to run today (currently at London's St. Martin's Theatre), at this point surely continuing on its own momentum.
The fact that it has proved so popular alone makes “The Mousetrap” worth seeing, though you won’t be any wiser as to the secrets of its success. The show is a classic whodunit; an isolated house, a murderer on the loose, and virtually everybody a suspect. The setting in “The Mousetrap” is a newly opened bed-and-breakfast in suburban London. The owners are a happy young couple, the guests include an eccentric young man; a stern, aloof young woman; a jovial ex-army major; a crabby old lady; a foreigner with a mysterious past; and a detective. The plot is two-fold: who will be the killer’s next victim? And who is the killer?
There are enough red herrings thrown out to keep the audience guessing throughout the play. Which certainly happened on the night this reporter attended; there were gasps in the audience when the truth was revealed. While the London production (which changes casts on a yearly basis) occasionally camps up the material, the Village Theatre production plays it straight, if sometimes too broadly (especially in the case of the ostensibly gay characters, that eccentric young man and stern, aloof young woman).
“The Mousetrap” epitomizes the “well-made play.” It’s admittedly dated, but nonetheless fills the bill for a good old fashioned night of fun at the theater.