This Day In Literary History
On November 25th, 1952, The Mousetrap, the classic play by the legendary English mystery writer Agatha Christie, opened in London at the Ambassadors Theatre.
The play, a murder mystery, was Christie's adaptation of her own short story, Three Blind Mice (1950). It was first adapted as a radio play, performed on May 30th, 1947, in honor of the 80th birthday of England's Queen Mary.
For the stage version, Agatha Christie had to change the title because there was another play running at the time called Three Blind Mice. The author of that work, Emile Littler, didn't want Christie's play confused with his.
The title The Mousetrap was suggested by Christie's son-in-law, Anthony Hicks, who observed that it was Hamlet's metaphoric description of the play he uses to "catch the conscience of the King."
In Agatha Christie's deliciously macabre play, a young couple, Giles and Mollie Ralston, have turned the old Monkswell Manor into a successful hotel. One winter day, the Ralstons find themselves snowed in with some guests and a stranded traveler who ran his car into a snowbank.
A policeman, Detective Sergeant Trotter, arrives on skis to warn everyone that a murderer is on the loose and headed for the hotel. When one of the guests (Mrs. Boyle) is killed, the others realize that the murderer is already there. Detective Sergeant Trotter begins an investigation.
Suspicion first falls on the obviously troubled Christopher Wren, but soon it seems that any one of the snowed-in group could be the murderer. As the play progresses, we learn that the murderer's first victim was a woman who served time in prison for abusing the three foster children placed in her care.
The body count continues, the plot thickens, and red herrings abound. Detective Sergeant Trotter plans to set a trap for the killer. Finally, in a shocking surprise twist ending, the murderer is revealed to be...
What, did you think I was going to tell you and ruin the play? Traditionally, after the play ends at the theater, the audience is asked not to reveal the identity of the murderer to those who haven't seen the play. I'm going to observe that tradition. You'll have to see the play for yourself to find out "who done it" and why.
The Mousetrap holds the record for the longest initial run of any play in history, with over 25,000 performances and counting. The original 1952 cast featured Sir Richard Attenborough as Detective Sergeant Trotter and his wife, Sheila Sim, as Mollie Ralston.
In 1974, after 9,000 performances, the production was moved to St. Martin's Theatre, where it still runs today.
Quote Of The Day
"I specialize in murders of quiet, domestic interest." - Agatha Christie
Today's video features a complete live performance of Agatha Christie's classic play, The Mousetrap. Enjoy!