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Theatre: The Mousetrap

A 1952 play by Agatha Christie adapted from her 1947 radio play, "Three Blind Mice". Since its opening night in London Soho, the play has been running continuously. It holds the world record for longest running show (of any type) of the modern era.

The plot takes place in a guest house called Monkswell Manor, run by a Mr. and Mrs. Ralston. They've only just inherited the house, close to where Mrs. Ralston grew up, and they're excited about the arrival of their very first guests. On their first night running the guest house, however, the Ralstons and their four odd lodgers are snowed in during a blizzard. The radio announces that a serial killer is on the loose — one who uses the children's song "Three Blind Mice" as a Leitmotif. And the more and more time passes, the more and more reason there is to believe that the killer may be inside Monkswell Manor. When one of the guests indeed ends up murdered, suspicion starts falling on anyone and everyone in the manor. Suffice to say, there are a ton of twists which unfold slowly over the entire course of the tale. And that's all we're going to say.


This work features examples of:

  • Asshole Victim
  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": The actors swear the audience to secrecy about the ending. Doesn't stop the ending from going out in public.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Christopher Wren and Miss Casewell. See Freud Was Right below for more on Wren, and Casewell can be this or The Lad-ette based on script interpretation.
  • Bluffing the Murderer: Subverted. 'Nuff said.
  • The Butler Did It: A theatreland joke tells of a cab driver who, dropping his passengers off outside the theatre showing The Mousetrap and feeling angry about not getting a tip, yells "The butler did it!" and drives off. The joke relies on you knowing that there isn't a butler in the play.
  • Closed Circle: By snowstorm.
  • Conviction by Contradiction: Deconstructed.
  • Cut Phone Lines: Done by the murderer to further isolate the guesthouse from the outside world.
  • Do Not Spoil This Ending: To the point that no film adaptation (or any other adaptation, for that matter) can be made while the play is still running. Mass market publication of the script is not allowed in the United Kingdom either. Since it's been running for sixty years, it's likely no adaptation will ever see the light of day. As a matter of fact, TV Tropes ain't spoiling either. Got that?
    • There's a much nastier variation of the joke from The Butler Did It above; in it, the cab driver has actually seen the play, and he yells out the name of the actual culprit while driving off.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect
  • Faux Shadow: Virtually every character gets it at some point, always done very well.
  • The Film of the Book: Averted. It will not be licensed for a film until the English run of the play is over. And that play has been running for 60 years, and still not any sign of slowing. Wiiiiaaaooo!
  • Freudian Excuse
  • The Lad-ette: Miss Casewell.
  • Long Runner: It has run since its opening, and is in fact the longest running theatrical production period.
  • Meta Guy: Type B: Paravicini. He frequently names conventions of the "cosy" crime fiction genre, proving to be quite Genre Savvy. These include highlighting the dangers of not knowing the guests, commenting on the convenience of the isolation of the characters, and asking Trotter not to spoil the "ending" (reveal the murderer), as the last scene/reveal is always the best scene.
  • Minimalist Cast: Due to the entire play taking place in a single room in the middle of a snowstorm.
  • Old Dark House
  • Red Herring: As with any good mystery, there is one.
  • Running Gag: Early in the play when a new character arrives at the house the description of the killer's clothes is given, usually as they take each item off.
  • Snowed-In: During the entire play.
  • Split Personality. Hinted at.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: The radio description of the killer is actually pretty good, except for the fact that it could potentially describe every single character in the play.
  • This Is Reality
  • Troperrific: Too bad we can't prove it without major, forbidden spoilers. Even putting this here at all was pushing it.
  • Wham Line: It involves guns. And that's all we're going to say.

By the way, the murderer is not to be revealed on this wiki.
And Then There Were NoneCreator/Agatha Christie    
Mother Courage and Her ChildrenTheatrical ProductionsMr Puntila and His Man Matti
X Minus OneThe FiftiesThe Crucible
Motor MouthSelf-Demonstrating ArticleMuseum of the Strange and Unusual

alternative title(s): The Mousetrap
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