Louise Jameson (Doctor Who, EastEnders, Doc Martin) joins the cast as Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap heads for Brighton Theatre Royal (January 25-30).
“To be honest, it’s because I am still paying off my mortgage. I am on the last four years. I am just saying yes to everything! My kids have finally got themselves settled. One got engaged this year. One had his first little boy. They have landed, and I am back to doing what I want to do. Plus, I much prefer doing theatre to TV. I just love the same energy everyone shares, the same concentration, the same shared pin-drop silence, the excitement of live theatre...
“Plus, I have only recently really discovered Agatha Christie. I did a TV adaptation of The Pale Horse years ago, but I never looked at anything until I played Miss Marple in A Murder is Announced. I loved the fact that with Agatha Christie you find yourself playing to two audiences at the same time. You have got a group of people who don’t know it at all and who gasp when the gun is produced. But you have also got the total aficionados who clock absolutely every clue and almost know every word in the script. That’s quite a new feeling to have those that don’t know. I loved doing Shakespeare in America where they didn’t know what was going to happen.”
And so now The Mousetrap...
“I am virtually the same age as the play. It feels like it has always been there. I think I might possibly have seen the second half when I was a student at RADA. Because I was broke, I would sneak past the ushers in the interval and see the second half of pretty much anything I could because they didn’t check the tickets quite so much for the second half!
“But I have now seen it three times properly. I have had a couple of friends that have been in it, and then I saw it again after I accepted the part.”
Louise is playing, as she says, “the grumpy old lady”: “I have just come out of panto where I was playing the fairy godmother and I was trying to learn Mrs Boyle when I was standing there in all my glitz and glitter because I had a 20-minute break in the panto, but I just couldn’t. I just couldn’t concentrate on it in the middle of the panto!”
But she knows it’s a part everyone will respond to. There are plenty of people who might be imagining their own particular grumpy old aunt up there on the stage - “the kind of person that just complains all the time.”
As for the play’s remarkable history, more than 60 years unbroken on the London stage, Louise reckons there are several good reasons it has become the phenomenon it has: “When it had done six years on the stage, it broke the record in the Guinness Book of Records and then it became one of the British institutions, like the Changing of the Guards and the Tower of London.
“It became the must-see thing for the traditionally-dead month in British theatre in August...”
But also, the inspiration behind the piece gave it something genuine...and maybe that’s what audiences are responding to.
“There is an immensely-moving story behind it of two children that were taken away from their parents and were placed on a farm. One little boy was literally beaten to death, and the younger brother survived.
“I think it would have been late 40s, maybe even early 50s.
“Agatha Christie heard this story, and it really, really disturbed her, and in the end she wrote the story in order to get it out of her system.
“I think there is that really agonising truth behind it that has perhaps given the play the momentum it has had.”
Tickets cost £16.40-£38.90. Call 0844 871 7650 or visit www.atgtickets.com/brighton.
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