Mousetrap star Louise Jameson talks to the Lynn News about the classic whodunnit

Louise Jameson in The Mousetrap tour
Louise Jameson in The Mousetrap tour

It’s billed as “the cleverest murder mystery of British theatre” and a “truly entertaining classic thriller” by the critics.

And now you can judge for yourself whether The Mousetrap lives up to those stunning reviews without having to travel to London’s West End.

Louise Jameson

Louise Jameson

This record-breaking production opens at Lynn Corn Exchange on Monday, June 13, and there will be eight performances before the final curtain on Saturday, June 18. Tickets for The Mousetrap are £17.50-£27.50 (group discount available), performances are 7.30pm nightly with 2.30pm matinees on the Wednesday and Saturday; to book call the box office on 01553 764864 or visit www.kingslynncornexchange.co.uk

The Mousetrap is famous around the world for being the longest-running show of any kind in the history of theatre, with over 26,000 performances. This record-breaking 60th anniversary production is touring again in 2016 starring Louise Jameson (Doctor Who, EastEnders, Doc Martin) as Mrs Boyle.

The scene is set when a group of people gathered in a country house cut off by the snow discover, to their horror, that there is a murderer in their midst. Who can it be? One by one the suspicious characters reveal their sordid pasts until at the last, nerve-shredding moment the identity and the motive are finally revealed.

In her own inimitable style, Dame Agatha Christie has created an atmosphere of shuddering suspense and a brilliantly intricate plot where murder lurks around every corner.

Ahead of the show, Louise Jameson has been speaking to the Lynn News and she says of The Mousetrap: “Expect the unexpected.” Here’s what she had to say:

Starting off locally, is this your first visit to West Norfolk?

No, I’ve played more or less every theatre in the country. I never know for certain until I stand on the stage and look out at the auditorium, then I can say whether I have trod those particular boards or not. And two years ago I did a small tour of Norfolk with my one-woman show, Pulling Faces.

Will you have much spare time during your week here to visit our stunning coastline and countryside?

I very much hope so. Norfolk was the first place I ever tasted samphire, (is that how you spell it – the wondrous seaweed that is so good for you?) and I also heard amazing folk singing in the pubs by the sea. I will certainly try to take in some more of that.

With this Mousetrap tour, the cast and production team have been together since early January, what has that been like?

I think we have been rather blessed with this company. We’re all foodies for a start, so have been showing off our culinary skills to each other and every week someone different takes charge and organises an outing, a meal, and sometimes a ‘wild card’ activity ... all very bonding and we get to learn a lot about the places that we visit.

How do you manage to keep the performances fresh for different towns and audiences?

That’s the skill. It becomes a kind of meditation… blocking everything else from your mind and listening very closely to your fellow actors. Acting is only re-acting, it is as simple and as hard as truly listening.

What to you is the endearing appeal of The Mousetrap?

It hit the tourist trail when, after six years in the West End, it appeared in The Guinness Book of Records. But I think the reason is more profound than that. Agatha Christie was very affected by a terrible true story, in the late 40s, of a young lad who was beaten to death whilst in foster care. The court case haunted her, and she tried to exorcise it by writing a short play for radio called Three Blind Mice. This play was such a success that she was commissioned to expand it to the play that is today called The Mousetrap. It has a depth to it, which, if honoured by the actors, adds a gravity to the text. The rest, as they say, is history.

During your own career, did you see The Mousetrap in its long run in the West End?

Yes, three times, when I have had friends in it and then again when I knew I was being asked to do it.

What impression did it make on you… and did you think “I want to be in that play”?

I loved it, every time. They were very different performances. Funny isn’t it, with almost identical moves and identical text, that performances can be so different? I never longed to be in it, but when the offer came and I realised The Mousetrap is the same age as me, it seemed the right thing to do. Synchronicity. We would share our birthdays and it is, after all, an iconic piece of British theatre.

Your own career on stage, screen and television has been highly successful. Which is your favourite medium?

This is very dependent on the script. Tenko, for example, was an absolute joy to perform.

But if I really had to choose, pub theatre is where I am happiest. Usually doing new and exciting writing to a small, dedicated audience. It’s risky and dangerous and immediate.

Have you any advice for aspiring actresses and actors who may be in the Corn Exchange audience?

Do or die? That would be my question. Are you really passionate enough to give everything to the job? And on a practical level – get at least six audition speeches under your belt.

See and read as many plays as you can, watch films, be aware of what is going on with the TV, so you have a good, sound knowledge base to discuss anything and everything at your interviews.

See and read what you don’t like, too, you learn as much from what doesn’t work as from what does. Leave your ego in the wings; know that you are part of a team, taking an audience on a journey.

On your website you refer to the current refugee crisis and the plight of those in North West France, please tell us more.

I am very saddened by the lack of empathy for these refugees. I don’t understand why the media insists on calling them “migrants”. The hundreds of children who are simply “disappearing”. The most vulnerable people in our society and we as a country seem to be turning our backs. Did we learn nothing from the Second World War? Something has to give.

I think Jeremy Corbyn is the best thing to have happened to British politics since John Smith.

Could our readers help in any way?

I have a dear friend, Jane Clubb, who travels to North West France once a month and stays for a week. She does everything from donating sleeping bags to cooking meals. She finances it herself but she needs support.

If any of your readers would like to donate to her (I can 100 per cent vouch for her), they can do so through her Facebook page (https://m.facebook.com/SOaidtocalais/) and gofundme (https://www.gofundme.com/carerefugees2016)

I shall be joining her on a trip later in the year.

And finally, I don’t suppose you could give us just one clue as to the identity of the killer?

I could… but I would have to murder you afterwards in order to preserve the secret.

Just expect the unexpected.