Review- Mousetrap-Lunchbox Productions


By: Matthew Gillespie


On the 9th of October 2012, Hong Kong was provided the pleasure of hosting Lunchbox Theatrical Productions' performance of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.The Mousetrap is the quintessential "whodunit" and has been deemed the longest running play anywhere in the world. It has been playing at the West End for 60 years and is still going strong.  

Originally performed in 1952, the play hasn’t varied much from its original production in direction or design.  While each director and production team has added its touches to it, the moment the curtain rises, the audience is transported back to a 1950’s sitting room.  With tall beige walls, a large plush, maroon settee with gold adornments, circular wooden side tables, some touches of old style radios and clocks, splashes of pinks, maroons and greens throughout, we took a little step back in time.  At the center of the stage is a large window that is frosted with snow falling outside.  

It opens with an old style radio news program relating the murder of a woman in London. Then, one by one the characters enter and we begin to know them a little.  Mrs. Mollie Ralston, played by Sarah Richard, is busy getting her estate ready for houseguests.  She calls for a Mrs. Barlow, whom we assume is a housekeeper, but there isn’t a response. As she busies herself, we quickly discover that she and her husband, Giles Ralston played by Clyde Berning, are opening a new Guesthouse. When her husband enters from the cold after driving about the country side looking for some chicken netting, he seems to be upset about wasting his afternoon, but begins to help his wife ready the house.

Then, we meet the houseguests one by one. Little by little we discover that none of the hosts or guests are what they seem to be.  Yet some remain guarded, giving up nothing about themselves.  And one of them ends up dead, making one of them the killer at this snowed in estate.


These skilled actors brought this classic story to life. Each one of them had very strong entrances, establishing the character of their character the moment they stepped through the front door.  Sarah Richard played the naïve young proprietress consistently,  although it could have made her character a little more interesting if there were some subtle indicators of her past as events in the house began to unravel. Bronwyn Gottwald remained aloof and unreadable which works great for her character. She has a strong presence while still melting into the scenes.  Clare Marshall played the overbearing Mrs. Boyle with class and well plotted annoyance. I particularly enjoyed her performance as she was ever present in this charmingly unlikeable character. Clyde Berning was a rock throughout. Very little ruffles him as his household falls apart which makes his loss of control later much stronger.  Ashley Dowds maintained a great amount of energy as the Detective.  He carried himself well, walking with large strides around the stage. He covered the entire stage in moments. And Robert Fridjhon remained somewhat aloof throughout, seeming to be unruffled by much of anything that was happening. This works well for an ex-military character. The subtle witticisms were well played.

However, the stand out performances of the night were by Matthew Lotter and Mark Rayment.  They were both a little larger than life.  Matthew was flamboyant and a lot of fun to watch.  His energy and presence really made you root for this character.  Mark had an entire arsenal of quirks and smirks and slanted glances and subtle nuances that had the audience laughing throughout.  He created an entire, fully conceived character that we never really know anything about. 

There’s very little to be critical about this performance. It was fast paced, well timed and engrossing.  I suppose there is something to be learned from 60 years of continual performances.  There’s the balance between remaining true to the original vision while bringing something new to it and making it fun for audiences that may have seen it before, numerous times. 

I would have liked to see a crack or two in the walls so that Mrs. Boyle’s comments about the place being run down had some credence.  As the fireplace seems to be an ever present area of performance, a stronger glow or perhaps some moving lights could have made it a little more realistic.  The faded lampshades seemed to not quite fit with the rest of the place that was finely kept up.  And while it always takes a little time for audiences to become accustomed to accents, they could take a little more care in their diction, especially when performing to an audience that will largely be speakers of English as a second or third language. While played well by the performers, the final resolution after the "whodunit" reveal seemed a little contrived.  But why mess with a classic? Overall, these are nitpicky things that don’t really take away from the performance but could make it just that much better.

While the ticket prices are definitely more suited for West End, this is truly a classic play that has lasted the decades for a reason. And it is still fun today when acted by these talented performers. It is definitely worth going to experience and enjoy. Go with friends and see who figures out the killer. Just don’t tell the secret.

The Mousetrap will be playing at the Lyric Theatre at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts from the 9th to 14th of October at 8pm Weeknights and Saturday night. It plays at 4pm on Saturday afternoon and at 2pm and 7pm on Sunday.  Don’t miss your chance to see this classic piece of British theatre. 

Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: ---


  • happy
    10 October 2012

    mr gillespie needs to critique more and describe less. i need to know wether the show is good or not.
  • Vlad
    11 October 2012

    This show was really boring.
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