Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Mousetrap

I did it! I went to The Mousetrap again, for the second time in... erm... let me see... nearly 60 years. I wanted to see what I made of it after all that time, book- ending my theatre-going life to date. I went with my cousin Mary, who is a little older than me and we ate, not at The Ivy celeb canteen next door, but at Jamie Oliver's Italian just across the road in St Martin's Lane. Mary used to work as an illustrator before she was married and we walked past the place of her employment, the now-defunct mildly saucy 'Men Only' magazine from Charing Cross station where I had met her train. She has since become a very good painter, of landscapes and flowers, her work often used by card manufacturers. We had mackerel since you ask - absolutely delicious - then I had three different flavours of ice cream with two different sorts of topping, and Mary had panacotta topped with seasonal berries. Well, the meal was great. The difficulty with reviewing the play is that one is honour bound not to reveal who dunnit. The action is set in a country house in mid winter, and the characters keep mentioning how cold it is. The theatre was cold, too. It is incredibly cold in London, and forecast to get colder still. We, the audience in our sixties and seventies, huddled under our coats as realistic snow fell outside the window on set and the husband of the young couple who have just opened a recently-inherited house to paying guests trots on and off with baskets of logs to keep the flickering fire going in the enormous medieval hearth. There are frequent period references: to ration books, war service in the army, the 'black market' - in Swiss watches - ! Fancy: once upon a time it was illegal to trade in them in the UK. Characters live in private hotels and guest houses, unable to afford to stay in their own home. Menus (a frequent subject of conversation in the play, reflecting the importance of getting anything to eat in those truly austere post -WWII days) sound like the sort of food I remember was standard at home in the 1950's, when the play is presumably set - shepherd's pie, baked apple and custard. This is no boutique hotel. The script and the acting are of more or less the same adequate standard, - but then, when I first saw it I was only 10 or 11 years of age, and - crucially - , this time round, I knew in advance who dunnit, so there was only curiosity as to how it would play out rather than suspense. Today is to be spent with my sister, another artist, at David Hockney then Rules (our father's favourite restaurant, reputed to be the first in London) and a matinee performance of One Man Two Guv'nors with James Corden, then, in the evening - if my energy holds out - Putin at Pushkin House. No, not the man himself: a preview screening of the third in the current TV series about the man and his regime made by Angus Roxburgh, and a discussion with the production team.

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