ONE Bang! A gunshot rings out. A woman screams. Someone’s been murdered. But who? And by whom?
The Mousetrap, Agatha Christie’s classic mansion-murder whodunit, has endured 25,000 performances over 60 years on London’s West End, making it the longest running play in history. Now it’s on tour for the first time and comes to the King’s Theatre next week.
“It coincides with my 60th birthday next year,” says Karl Howman, better known as Jacko from the BBC sitcom Brush Strokes, who plays plausible man of mystery Mr Paravicini in the suspense thriller.
Initially a radio play in 1947, and based on the real-life case of the death of a boy who died while in the foster care of a Shropshire farmer in 1945, the touring production even features a prop from the original stage set, the mantelpiece clock.
“The clock doesn’t work,” laughs Howman. “The show is like a warm cup of cocoa, though. It’s something you’re safe with, like watching an old black and white movie you’ve always been really fond of and look forward to seeing again.”
Also starring Jemma Walker (Family Affairs), Clare Wilkie (Eastenders) and Bruno Langley (Coronation Street), the action takes place in a country manor where the occupants are cut off by the snow.
For six decades the play has been one of the main things to see when visiting London, but that doesn’t mean cockney Howman has got round to seeing it – yet.
“It’s like Madame Tussauds – it’s on my doorstep,” he says. “You always say you’ll get around to it, but you never do. You could liken it to Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat – I’ll bet most people from the city haven’t been to the top. First time I was in Edinburgh I was right up there.”
The Mousetrap, King’s Theatre, Leven Street, Mon-Sat, 7.30pm (mats 2.30pm), £11.50-£29.50, 0131-529 6000