Opera House, Wellington

09/05/2019 - 19/05/2019

Production Details


The longest-running show in the world comes to New Zealand in 2019
Written by the Grande Dame of murder mysteries, AGATHA CHRISTIE

‘A truly entertaining classic’ – The Sunday Times, UK

The West End’s legendary murder mystery drama THE MOUSETRAP is the longest-running show, of any kind, in the world.  Written by the best-selling novelist of all time (Death on the Nile, Miss Marple, Poirot) and the ‘Queen of Crime’, Dame Agatha Christie, THE MOUSETRAP has kept audiences guessing for six decades.

Now the ‘whodunit’ masterpiece will tour New Zealand for the first time ever, playing in Auckland at the ASB Waterfront Theatre from 2nd April 2019, in Christchurch at the Theatre Royal from 24th April May 2019, before its final season in Wellington at the Opera House from 8th May 2019.

In her own inimitable style, Dame Agatha Christie has created an atmosphere of shuddering suspense and a brilliantly intricate plot where murder lurks around every corner.

Newly opened guesthouse, Monkswell Manor, is snowed in and amongst the seemingly ordinary gathering of guests, a killer lurks.…  Having already killed once, the murderer strikes again.  The tension is razor sharp: everyone is a suspect; everyone a potential victim. One by one the characters reveal their pasts, and a complex web of deceit and suspicion emerges.  But who will be next, and who is the killer?

Christie’s classic ‘whodunit’ opened in London’s West End in November 1952 and has since played over 27,500 performances. THE MOUSETRAP is the longest running stage production in the world and after almost 66 years, continues to delight audiences to this day at London’s St. Martin’s Theatre. Originally written by Agatha Christie as a radio play titled Three Blind Mice and broadcast in 1947, Christie then adapted the radio play for a short story of the same name before again rewriting for the stage as THE MOUSETRAP.

THE MOUSETRAP has never been adapted for film. Christie did not expect the play to run for more than a few months and stipulated that no film of THE MOUSETRAP be made until six months after the West End production closed.  As the show is about to enter its 67th year and continues its historic London run a film adaptation looks unlikely.

During the play’s phenomenal run there have been no fewer than 474 actors and actresses appearing in the play – including Richard Attenborough and Sheila Sim in the original cast – as well as 279 understudies, 116 miles of shirts have been ironed, over 415 tons of ice cream sold, and an estimated 10 million people have been riveted by this gripping tale.

Award-winning director Alan Swerdlow says “THE MOUSETRAP has remained popular for so long because it is so well constructed, with a terrific twist quite unlike Dame Agatha Christie’s other works.  It was one of the first murder mysteries really to explore the psychology and motivations of the killer.  And it is both thrilling and fun – the audience has a great time working out who the next victim is going to be and who the killer is.  Dame Agatha keeps on surprising us!”

The play is set in 1952, when it was originally staged.  “That is part of its charm,” says Mr Swerdlow.  “The spirit of Britain in the early 1950s informs so much of the play – the attitudes, the speech patterns, the mores.”

Producer James Cundall, CEO of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, says “It is a real honour and a thrill to bring this legendary play to New Zealand for its debut.  THE MOUSETRAP is a masterful piece of theatre, full of mystery, suspense and high drama – an absolute classic in the genre of whodunits.  It is one of those plays that EVERYONE should see.”

‘One of the most skilfully written murder mysteries ever produced.’New York Times

THE MOUSETRAP is produced in New Zealand by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions in association with Pieter Toerien.

Tickets for THE MOUSETRAP are on sale now. Check out for more details.

ASB Waterfront Theatre
From Tuesday, 2 April
Show times: Tuesday – Friday 7.30pm; Saturday 2.30 & 7.30pm; Sunday 1pm & 5pm
Tickets from $89.90

Isaac Theatre Royal
From Wednesday, 24 April
Show times: Tuesday – Friday 7.30pm; Saturday 2.30 & 7.30pm; Sunday 1pm & 5pm
Tickets from $89.90

Wellington Opera House
From Wednesday, 8 May
Show times: Tuesday – Friday 7.30pm; Saturday 2.30 & 7.30pm; Sunday 1pm & 5pm
Tickets from $89.90 

Theatre ,

Something we should all have to experience

Review by Dave Smith 10th May 2019

This play is a truly unique phenomenon. It was up and running in the West End before the Queen was crowned and has become just as much a tourist attraction in London as Tower Bridge. Watching it onstage feels a tad like experiencing a stream of cultural feedback from the radiating Big Bang of that good old British Empire of yore.

It has been a massive success over time. Therefore, it often gets devalued by those jealous of its 67 years of exposure to theatre audiences worldwide. It can make one reflect that often a dazzlingly talented artist may derive huge riches from their less auspicious work. Hitchcock made his fortune through ad-laden television movies not Rear Window and Vertigo. Rodgers & Hammerstein gleaned a tsunami of loot from the sickly-sweet Sound of Music not the wondrous Oklahoma. Hercule Poirot is simply divine but The Mousetrap is the perpetual fruit machine.  

Everyone has a favourite Mousetrap endurance story they’ve heard over the years. Mine harks back about 20 years when a long-suffering cast was sleepwalking through yet another matinee. Suddenly there was a palpable dry. The actors glared at each other, seasoned Mousetrappers in the audience called out the line from all parts of the house. An actor walked to the footlights and thanked them for the kind help but told them, “We all know the line. We’ve just forgotten who says it.”

So here we all are in 2019 in a former British colony watching a bunch of people traipsing around ye olde country guest house known as Monkswell Manor while the place is snowed in and the phones are cut off. The proprietors are new and the guests come toddling in covered in snow, each bringing with them their own personal life baggage – and not much else.

There is a brash whingeing, gets-right-up-your-nostrils Pom of a woman who has clearly forgotten to emigrate. We get the standard ‘suspicious-looking foreigner’ who shows up without a reservation and acts and sounds like the Count in Sesame Street for the entire duration. Then we have the nervy, feckless and twitchy non heterosexual fellow who is actually more suspect for being a self-proclaimed architect than gay. The woman dressed in a fellow’s three piece suit and tie fresh in from Spain is next while the Manor ensemble is rounded off by a standard Fawlty Towers-style major with an overly gruff voice.     

Murder has been committed in London a few hours’ drive away. The news is proclaimed from an ancient radiogram which is switched on and off through the play; sometimes to elucidate and sometimes just to annoy. We are in pre-transistor radio times here.

As the action proceeds coincidence piles upon coincidence and the far-off police send in a sergeant on skis (no less) with a mission to prevent the next murder. But alas his staunch endeavours are in vain. In the contrived darkness one of the less likeable guests gets the seemingly mindless chop. A measure of tension is generated by intelligent lighting and staging, but then relieved by some deft but light humour along with some fairly melodramatic theatrics. To say more as to who could be the villain would be to step on a colossal landmine; at which point I would have to endure urgent cosmetic surgery and leave the country. 

After that it is all clever, tough police work, ominous gatherings in the parlour, careful reconstructions, one-on-one accusation sessions all leading up the final denouement in the glorious Christie tradition. Yet it is palpably not her best work. It is prone to cliché (even by fifties standards). The cast tries hard to be cool 21st century actors but the only way many of the more stilted lines can be clearly articulated is in a rather ‘over the top’ sort of way.

I would call it Cluedo for adults or perhaps Maigret for juveniles. It is strong on who, what, where and how. It is less convincing on why. The actors tend not to fully inhabit their roles as much as move around the (commendably authentic) set like chess pieces in a game they, quite reasonably, don’t fully understand.

As the young guest house proprietors, Melissa Haiden and Mark Sykes are just about adequate in their undemanding roles. The loopy foreign man, Mr Paravicini, is played engagingly by Mark Wynter, looking sharp in a sharp suit (in stark contrast to the woeful tailoring of the rest of the Brit characters who are living in cruelly rationed postwar times). So he stays just inside the bounds of credibility as a distinct plus.

Our coarsely prejudiced middle class lady might be a little more style-conscious than Michele Maxwell plays her (she is, after all, a local magistrate, crude prejudices and all). The budding architect Christopher Wren (I kid you not), played by Matthew Lotter, pushes things along occasionally but his nervous hand twitching seems to be linked more to irritating acting technique than his being a “homicidal maniac” (sic).  Malcolm Terrey as Major Metcalf performs okay and hits some nicely understated high spots near the end while Shannyn Fourie as Miss Casewell postures rather, in a way that ultimately lacks intensity when that is most needed. More depth of believable character is called for, I feel.

But the focal point of the play is the ever-suspicious and constantly questioning Sergeant Trotter: your driven local ‘cop on skis’. This is the role that more than any other holds the play together. It was once owned by Richard Attenbrough, who I suspect would have brought a more fluent and modulated presence to the party. Aiden Scott as yet lacks that level of assured and dominant stage presence. He is tentative and somewhat unsnappy with the dialogue in crucial face-to-face moments when he is meant to be putting other characters under the stress of his superior and dogged wit. 

In the end the audience heartily claps as though they accept they’ve had more than their money’s worth. They recognise the immensity of the achievement in theatre they have witnessed. Even lesser Christie is no mean show. That generations of audiences have kept faith with her over the identity of The Mousetrap murderer implies huge respect and faithfulness to a genius writer in at least three vast artistic mediums.

I have never once, in all the many years since The Mousetrap began its mammoth run, had someone sidle up to me and whisper into my left earhole who did it. (If only the CIA and NATO could enforce such tight security of their sensitive information.) 

To conclude, I sense that The Mousetrap is less a play and rather more a rite of passage. The millions who have seen it and kept their mouths shut should carry a certificate signed by a senior police officer attesting to that fact. It is something we should all have to experience like DB Export, bungy jumping and colonic irrigation. 


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