Mousetrap was a gift for Queen Mary


“Now you have seen the play, you are our partners in crime, and we ask you to preserve the tradition by keeping the secret of whodunit locked in your hearts.”
Ever since the opening night way back in 1952, each performance has finished with these words. A young actor from Cambridge named Richard Attenborough was the first to ask the audience not to tell anyone the identity of the murderer. Who would have thought that Lord Attenborough would again deliver this speech at the Golden Jubilee performance 50 years later?
Agatha Christie’s play, The Mousetrap, has been the longest-running play in the world since the mid-1970s. The Mousetrap opened in London’s West End at the Ambassadors Theatre and played there for 21 years before moving to St Martin’s Theatre in 1973 without missing a show. Audiences eager to learn the well-kept secret of the play’s twist still pack into the theatre eight times a week.
Christie wrote the play as a special gift for Queen Mary’s 80th birthday. In her autobiography, the author recalled a conversation she had with the first producer of The Mousetrap, Peter Saunders.”Fourteen months I am going to give it”, Saunders said. To which she replied: “It won’t run that long. Eight months perhaps.”
On 18 November 2012, the whodunit celebrated its 25 000th consecutive performance as well as the 60th year of the production. Continuing at its current rate, The Mousetrap will pass its 30 000th performance in the autumn of 2024.
The show, which has been attended by more than 10 million people over the years, has attracted a number of notable audience members, including Sir Winston Churchill, Quentin Tarantino and Queen Elizabeth II, who began her reign six months before the play first opened.
It is not widely known that Dame Agatha Christie, who never regarded this as her best work, made her last public appearance at The Mousetrap.
Aged 84, the author appeared in public for the very last time at the play’s annual party in 1974. She died just over a year later. – Albé Grobbelaar