Tickets to murder mystery fly off the shelves in Dunedin

The common household mousetrap is traditionally very good at attracting mice, but Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap appears to be just as effective at attracting humans.

So much so, the venerable whodunnit theatre show has sold out its entire season at Dunedin’s Playhouse Theatre.

Director Dylan Shields said the Dunedin Repertory Society show was breathing life back into the city’s theatre world, following a shutdown of most entertainment during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He was surprised and delighted by the community’s response.

"I was surprised by it, just because the Playhouse is very well known for its children’s theatre, but it’s not as well known for its contemporary adult theatre.

"So it was a bit of a shock that it’s had this kind of reception, especially with regards to the previous couple of adult shows that we’ve done.

"But I think that because the show is so well known, once the word got out that it was being put on, everyone wanted to see it."

Dunedin actress Terry MacTavish, who plays Mrs Boyle in Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, shows...
Dunedin actress Terry MacTavish, who plays Mrs Boyle in Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, shows her delight in having the Dunedin Repertory Society’s season of the show sell out before opening night. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
He said it was part of a wider rejuvenation of theatre, dance and music around the country.

The show’s producers had considered extending performances past its May 28 closing night, but had been unable to get permission from the owners of the rights to the show.

"Agatha Christie’s grandson is the current rights holder," he said.

"They’re very protective of the production itself. For example, they only allow one non-West End production of the show in the entire United Kingdom to be performed at any one time.

"So we’re very lucky here to have been able to put it on at all."

The Mousetrap is the longest-running West End show, running continuously from 1952 until March 16, 2020, when it was temporarily discontinued during the Covid-19 pandemic. It reopened on May 17 last year.

It follows a group of seven strangers who become snowed in at a remote countryside guest house.

When a police sergeant arrives, the guests discover, to their horror, that a killer is in their midst.

One by one, the suspicious characters reveal their sordid pasts while the question remains — which one is the murderer, and who will be their next victim?

The play has a twist ending, which the audience is traditionally asked not to reveal.

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