A wooden sign in the lobby of London's St. Martin's Theatre keeps track of the number of performances that Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap has had. The world's longest running play has been inviting audiences to share in its secrets since 1952, with cast and direction changes to keep it as fresh as possible, despite the fact that the lines being said nightly have been said for over sixty years by hundreds of actors.
When the play first opened, Christie thought that it would run for a few months. However, her writing has managed to outlast any other play of the time and still runs like clockwork each night. The odd assortment of guests arrive one by one to Monkswell Manor, soon to find themselves snowed in, all wondering who the murder that has overtaken the radio news cycle could be, and if he or she is snowbound with them.
The cast is strong, and the characters are each incredibly distinctive. Each actor manages to hold their own no matter how many people are on stage at a time. The play itself is also surprisingly funny at times, and they hit both the comic elements as well as the darker and sadder moments perfectly.
Many shows have run for five or more years, but what makes Christie's The Mousetrap so special? It's hard question to answer, though one must walk past St. Martin's Theatre and wonder who is at the center of the murder mystery. And while I myself would love to tell you, every person that enters the theater is asked to keep the secret. So if you want to know what keeps the clever writing of Christie drawing people in for several decades, you'll have to go see it and find out for yourself.