Mousetrap is the world's longest continuously running play. It's enjoyed over 20,000 performances over approximately 50 years at St Martin's Theatre
. Richard Attenborough
and his wife Sheila Sim
appeared in the original cast (this was before Richard Attenborough
was famous), but the show doesn't usually feature stars. The key to the shows durability has been the ever-changing ending, meaning that people can go to see the show several times, in different company, and still enjoy the show.
I've never seen it before, but http://www.members.aol.com/MG4273/chris1.htm Give a long explaination of the novella, radio play and stage play.
Christie occasionally wrote works without her series detectives. Notable among these is the novella "Three Blind Mice" (1948). This started life as a 1947 radio play, before Christie turned it into a prose work. Then Christie adapted it into a stage play, The Mousetrap (1952), which had an extraordinarily long run in London. "Three Blind Mice" is notable among Christie's work for its detailed social observation of middle class life. Many of Christie's pre-war works had taken place among the upper or at least the upper middle classes. "Three Blind Mice" looks at a much more financially modest group of English people. The story is also carefully rooted in a particular time and place: virtually every detail of the plot and setting occurs against a background of the impact of World War II on English domestic and civilian life. World War II had just been over for two years when Christie wrote her radio play in 1947, and English life was still dominated by rationing and shortages. In some ways, the middle class characters and the World War II setting reinforce one another: had Christie tried to set this work among the upper crust, the wealth of the characters would largely have shielded them from England's war time problems.
"Three Blind Mice" is realistic in other ways as well. One of the characters, Christopher Wren, is a remarkably frank portrait of a gay young man. Christopher Wren shares many personality traits with earlier gay figures in Christie, such as Mr. Satterthwaite. However, Mr. Satterthwaite was a well to do, middle aged man of wealth and social position, while Christopher Wren is a poor young man who faces prejudice and rejection from British society. Like the other characters in the novella, he is much more middle class than many of Christie's usual suspects. Christie wavered in her depiction of homosexuality. Such characters in her mystery fiction as Mr. Satterthwaite and Christopher Wren are largely sympathetic, whereas her dismal non-mystery play Akhnaton (1937) is horribly homophobic.
The last thing anyone should suggest is that "Three Blind Mice" is a sociological tract, where Christie lectures her readers while ignoring her mystery plot. In fact, it is almost the exact opposite of this. The biggest mystery in this story is not whodunit, but what the characters are really like. Christie keeps us in suspense as she gradually reveals more and more of her suspects' lives, personalities, and social backgrounds. Consequently, each new detail about the characters' social experiences and sexual orientation serves to fill in another piece of the mystery puzzle. The reader has a burning desire to learn more and more about the characters and their lives, thus understanding these mysterious figures. The novella can be called a "sociological mystery", where the important facts are not physical clues, but an understanding of the characters' personalities, social background and lives. Christie is of course extremely expert at constructing mysteries, and this one is as well crafted as any of her less sociological tales.
"Three Blind Mice" has antecedents in Christie's work, and that of other people. The story resembles And Then There Were None (1939) in isolating a bunch of suspects in an inaccessible location, here a snowbound house. It also resembles that tale in that sinister secrets start coming out about seemingly respectable people. The snowbound setting also recalls the opening of Murder at Hazelmoor (1931). In tone and setting, "Three Blind Mice" also recalls Christie's "Sing a Song of Sixpence". "Sixpence" is also a story partly set among poorer people. It too has a domestic focus. Both stories are non-series works, without Agatha's series sleuths. And in both stories, the murder is a consequence of a previous domestic tragedy.
The final mystery surprise of "Three Blind Mice" is borrowed from Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood's play The Bat (1920). Christie had been influenced by Rinehart before - elements of the solution of Why Didn't They Ask Evans (1934) recall Rinehart's The Door (1930).
http://mousetraptickets.com/ (official site)