The Braeburn Theatre production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap proved that Nairobi is seriously missing those marvellous murder mysteries we used to see at Phoenix Players.
Granted the best of them are British and Christie’s are the best of the best, the city had the good fortune last week to finally see Christie’s most renowned murder mystery, ‘The Mousetrap’.
It’s a show so loved in London that it has never come off the West End stage since 1952 up to now. And if you had seen it staged last weekend at Braeburn Theatre Gitanga Road, you would understand why the drama has never left the stage.
Christie has a way of keeping you wondering ‘whodunit?’ even before the actual murder in Monkswell Manor occurs. That’s because there was a recent murder in town that’s got everyone at the Manor talking. Everybody except Mollie’s new spouse Giles (Djorf Amirouche) who looks like the first suspect.
With Christie’s mysteries, one must keep track of every clue, even the most subtle glances can be significant in figuring out who the murderer is. In fact, by Act 2 in the show, directed deftly by Canadian-American actor-director Chloe Dirksen, everyone in the house has become a suspect once the most opinionated, annoying guest, Mrs Boyle (Samantha Mihajlovic) gets bumped off by who-knows-who?
Coincidentally, Sergeant Trotter (Kurt Tjossem) has already arrived at the Manor. Ostensibly a police detective, he is there to investigate the town murder. But his arrival seems timely, especially as everyone pleads their innocence. Yet they all apparently have a motive for the murder, including the roguish young vagabond, Christopher Wren (Konstantin Burgess) whose fear of getting nailed for a crime he claims he did not commit is moving genuinely.
Wren’s emotional breakdown doesn’t just hit Mollie who feels a maternal affinity for him. We are also touched by this clever young actor who, in real life, is still in secondary school.
But the whole cast is spot on in terms of timing and characterisation. Ian Mbugua as Major Metcalf also might have a motive for murdering Mrs Boyle since she was the magistrate who sent an anonymous army officer’s two kids to foster care where they were mistreated while their dad was away at war.
By the end of the play, we know ‘whodunit’. But Christie’s makes her audiences ‘swear’ to secrecy meaning not to disclose the murderer’s identity. So I won’t tell!