The Madras Players and Crea Shakthi debut their take on the world’s longest-running mystery production.
If you’re a fan of the mystery genre, there’s hardly a chance that you haven’t heard of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. A whodunit with an amaranthine aura, it has been enjoying an uninterrupted run in London’s West End for 64 years now. And yet, it is plausible you haven’t actually seen the play. For when Crea Shakthi and The Madras Players will present it next week, it will be a first by a city-based theatre group. “Watching The Mousetrap is one of the things that one has to do while in London, like visiting the Tower of London or the Buckingham Palace,” says veteran theatre artiste PC Ramakrishna, perhaps the only actor in the cast to have seen the play—he recalls catching it at St Martin’s Theatre in the 1990s.
Giving it a miss
So it’s tough not to ask why no one ever did this play in Chennai, where other works of Christie’s, including And Then There Were None and Waiting for the Prosecution, have been staged. For no specific reason, says Abhinav Suresh, director of the play. Something actor Ramakrishna concurs with. People probably kept out of it reverentially, given the iconic status it enjoys, Suresh then offers.
Twist in the tale
The murder mystery centres on Monkswell Manor, a boarding house which becomes the scene of action after it is believed to be connected to a recent murder. With several red herrings characteristic of Christie’s body of work, and a clever and unimaginable ending, the play ticks all the boxes for a classic murder mystery. To this day, it has six shows a week at St Martin’s Theatre, its venue since 1974.
The pith of the play is in its characterisation, says the director. “In a whodunit, you can usually zero in on a few characters as suspects, but not in this play, where every character is both a potential suspect and a potential victim,” adds Suresh, who previously directed Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope. The ensemble cast includes TM Karthik, Mahitha Suresh, Zarin Shihab and Prasanna Venkatesh. A faithful adaptation for the most part, only the ending has been tweaked, to add to the buildup that the play creates from the start, shares the 30-year-old director.
At The Music Academy, on June 17, at 7.15 pm. Tickets from Rs 200 onwards. Details: in.bookmyshow.com