The Mousetrap

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A 1952 play by Agatha Christie adapted from her 1947 radio play, "Three Blind Mice", The Mousetrap has earned fame and infamy ever since.

The plot (which probably seems very Seinfeld Is Unfunny given how many things in it have since become overused or overfamiliar tropes) takes place in a guest house called Monkswell Manor run by a Mr. and Mrs. Ralston. One night the Ralstons and several guests are snowed in during a blizzard with the radio announcing that a serial killer is on the loose--one who uses the song "Three Blind Mice" as a Leitmotif. And the more and more time passes, the more and more reason there is to believe that the killer may be inside Monkswell Manor even as we speak. When one of the guests indeed ends up murdered suspicion starts falling on anyone and everyone in the manor. Suffice to say, there are a ton of twists which unfold slowly over the entire course of the tale. And that's all we're going to say.

Not to be confused with a certain play written and directed by Hamlet.

Tropes used in The Mousetrap include:
  • Asshole Victim
  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": The actors make the audience swear to secrecy about the ending. Doesn't stop the ending from going out in public, and the twist-drenched ending is the only thing this play is known for.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Christopher Wren and Miss Casewell. See Freud Was Right below for more on Wren, and Casewell can be this or The Ladette based on script interpretation, etc.
  • Bluffing the Murderer: Subverted. 'Nuff said.
  • Closed Circle: by snowstorm.
  • Conviction by Contradiction: Deconstructed.
  • Do Not Spoil This Ending: To the point that no film adaptation (or any other adaptation, for that matter) can be made while the play is still running. As a matter of fact, All The Tropes ain't spoiling either. Got that?
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: And how!
  • Fauxshadow: Virtually every character gets it at some point, always done very well.
  • Freudian Excuse
  • The Ladette: Miss Casewell, to some extent.
  • Long Runner: It ran from its opening on October 6, 1952 until March 16, 2020 when it was forced to pause for the COVID-19 pandemic. Performances resumed on October 23, 2020. This makes The Mousetrap the longest running theatrical production period.
  • Meta Guy: Type B: Paravinci. He frequently names conventions of the "cosy" crime fiction genre, proving to be quite Genre Savvy. These include highlighting the dangers of not knowing the guests, commenting on the convenience of the isolation of the characters, and asking Trotter not to spoil the "ending" (reveal the murderer), as the last scene/reveal is always the best scene.
  • Minimalist Cast: Due to the entire play taking place in a single room in the middle of a snowstorm.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Major Metcalf.
  • Snowed In: During the entire play.
  • Split Personality. Hinted at.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: The radio description of the killer is actually pretty good, except for the fact that it could potentially describe every single character in the play.
  • The Film of the Book: Averted by law. It cannot be made into a film until the English run of the play is over. And that play premiered 71 years ago, and still shows no sign of slowing - even the COVID-19 pandemic only called a pause to the performances.
  • This Is Reality
  • Troperrific: Too bad we can't prove it without major, forbidden spoilers. Even putting this here at all was pushing it.
  • Wham! Line: It involves guns. And that's all we're going to say.

By the way, the murderer is the victim's killer. We said we weren't going to spoil this!