WHEN The Mousetrap opened on 25th November 1952 with Richard Attenborough and Sheila Sim in the leading roles, it was just seven years since the death of Hitler.
Food was still rationed, Winston Churchill was Prime Minister and Stalin was ruler of Russia.
Television programmes ended at 10.30pm and the entire TV listings occupied a mere three and a half lines.
In November 2012 Agatha Christie’s grandson, Mathew Prichard, welcomed the audience to the Diamond Jubilee celebratory evening, which was also the 25,000th performance of The Mousetrap.
For the first time in the show’s history The Mousetrap also went on tour. That tour continues, revisiting the King’s Theatre this week, where there is just one question on the lips of those yet to spend the evening in the company of the guests at Monkswell Manor: Whodunnit?
Set in the early 1950s, the action begins following the discovery of woman’s body. Mollie and Giles Ralstos own a newly-opened guest house. With the weather taking a turn for the worst The Ralstons and their guests - Major Metcalf, Christopher Wren, Mrs Boyle and Miss Casewell - find themselves snowed in and learn of the woman’s murder in the local paper.
Then a mysterious fifth traveller, Mr Paravicini, appears at the hotel after his car has been abandoned in a snowdrift.
With the help of the following witness statements, can you work out who committed the crime before investigaor DS Trotter?
Whether you do or not, remember, once you have seen The Mousetrap you are a partner in crime, and the company ask you to preserve the age old tradition of keeping the secret of whodunnit locked in your heart.
The Mousetrap, King’s Theatre, Leven Street, until Saturday, 7.30pm (matinee 2.30pm), £15-£30.50, 0131-529 6000
• Read Lee Randall’s review in Friday’s Evening News
MOLLIE RALSTON (played by Helen Clapp) is the proprietor of Monkswell Manor, where the murder took place, and is the wife of Giles.
Mollie: “I inherited Monkswell Manor from my aunt and rather than sell the beautiful house, I decided to turn it into a guest house. On a horrid, snowy night someone was killed – I didn’t hear anything, I was in the kitchen preparing vegetables with the wireless on. Maybe I would have been concentrating more if I hadn’t discovered that Giles had been lying about going to London earlier in the week. What else could he be lying about?”
GILES RALSTON (played by Henry Luxemburg, whose recent credits include Toby Mills in Hollyoaks and Jake Palmer in Doctors) runs Monkswell Manor with his wife Mollie.
Giles: “I married Mollie a year ago and I don’t like to talk about my life before that. When the body was discovered I was up in the bedroom trying to replace the broken telephone – I didn’t see Christopher Wren coming down the stairs from his room when I came down. There’s something odd about him and I know there’s something fishy going on between him and my wife...”
CHRISTOPHER WREN (played by Stephen Yeo) is the first guest to arrive at the hotel. Hyperactive, Wren acts in a very peculiar manner and 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.
Christopher: “I was alone in my room when the murder was committed. Everyone has had it in for me since the beginning, this is persecution! If it was anyone, I’d suspect Major Metcalf - seems perfectly nice and normal but you never know. . .”
MRS BOYLE (played by Anne Kavanagh) is a critical older woman, pleased by nothing she observes.
Boyle: “I told you that Christopher Wren’s credentials should have been checked when he booked in to the guest house; he looks like he’s escaped from a lunatic asylum! Now it’s too late.”
MAJOR METCALF (played by Chris Gilling whose film director father started as Alfred Hitchcock’s assistant and went on to direct many Hammer Horror movies) is retired from the army . . . Little is known about Major Metcalf.
Major: “I knew something was afoot when I realised the telephone wasn’t working; I was stationed in Edinburgh at the time of the Longridge Farm Case - you should ask Mrs Boyle if she knows anything more about that one.”
MISS CASEWELL (played by Charlotte Latham) is a strange, aloof, masculine woman who speaks offhandedly about the horrific experiences of her childhood.
Casewell: “I was alone writing a letter when the murder was committed. Anyway, I have to hurry off back to the continent after this snow clears up; I’m only here because I have some business to attend to . . .”
MR PARAVICINI (played by Michael Fenner) is 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 is artificially aged with make-up. Suspicious?
Paravicini: “I was travelling out in the snow when my Rolls Royce broke down, the first place I came to was this charming guest house in the middle of nowhere – It was lucky they have space for me. Who am I and where have I come from? Not telling. I am a man of mystery . . .”
DETECTIVE SERGEANT TROTTER (played by Luke Jenkins) arrives in a snow storm and questions the proprietors and guests. Will he have his work cut out?
DS TROTTER: “I was called to Monkswell Manor as there was a recent murder in London that seems to be connected to this house and the events which happened at nearby Longridge Farm some time ago. Everyone was alone when the murder was committed tonight, which means that everyone is a suspect in this case, even me . . .”