World’s longest-running play to be performed on campus

BJU hit by national labor shortage
November 29, 2021
Column
November 29, 2021

World’s longest-running play to be performed on campus

Photo: Melia Covington

Featuring a cast of interesting characters and a snowy mountain inn setting, BJU’s production of Agatha Christie’s classic play The Mousetrap will be performed from Nov. 30 through Dec. 3.

Anne Nolan, a faculty member in the department of theatre at BJU and the director of this production of Mousetrap, said the play is a classic whodunnit that has been running since 1952. “I don’t think you can get any more quintessential Agatha Christie than The Mousetrap,” said Nolan. “It is … the world’s longest running play.”

Nolan said Christie probably assumed the play would run for about eight months and then end, but the play ran continuously in the West End in London until it had to close down because of the pandemic in 2020. 

Christie put a clause in production paperwork that no movie version can be made of the movie until six months after the play has stopped running in the West End—something that had not happened until recently. Despite the probably temporary closure of the play for the pandemic, a movie version has not been planned by any filmmakers.

“To put it in perspective, Winston Churchill was still the prime minister when [the play] opened,” Nolan said. “It’s a classic murder mystery with a surprise ending. There’s a little tradition in the theatre of The Mousetrap when they come and they say, ‘We ask you to keep this secret. Don’t reveal who the killer is so that people can enjoy [the ending].’”

The play features a traditional cast of suspicious and quirky characters, as well as a surprise twist ending like many Christie stories. “It takes place in an old English country estate and it’s at an inn,” Nolan said. “And they get snowed in.”

Nolan said the basics of the plot are that a murder happens in London, and then a policeman shows up at the inn to tell the people inhabiting it that he thinks one of them will be murdered. “[The characters] are a little quirky,” she said. “Christie isn’t without humor and so everybody there is a little off and … some of them are slightly creepy as well.”

Nolan said the second-to-last performance of the play at 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3, will feature booths where pie and hot chocolate will be available for purchase before and after the show. The pie is a nod to the last line of the play, which is something the audience can anticipate with interest.

AnnaGrace Leszkowicz, a freshman communication major playing the character of Leslie Casewell, said she has enjoyed getting to know her character. “I always like character work,” Leszkowicz said. “So that’s really getting into the mind of the character and really learning a lot about her.”

Tim Hulbert, the assistant stage manager and understudy for all male roles in the production, said there have been some challenges in preparation for the play. “It was difficult with blocking [the positioning of actors on stage],” Hulbert said. “You have to write down every single little thing [the characters] do.

He also said there were enjoyable parts when preparing for The Mousetrap. “The cast we have, they’re really great,” Hulbert said. “They just love to be here and it’s really natural.”