Drawing: Phoebe Fildes in The Mousetrap

Autographed drawing of Phoebe Fildes in The Mousetrap at St Martin's Theatre on London's West End

Agatha Christie’s legendary whodunit THE MOUSETRAP is the world’s longest-running play in modern times, since starting at the Ambassadors Theatre on the 25th November 1952. In 1974 it transferred next door to its current residency, the St Martin’s Theatre.

In that time many different casts have appeared. The original included Sir Richard Attenborough as Detective Sergeant Trotter and his wife, Sheila Sim as Mollie Ralston. The contemporary cast changes regularly and the current one began in April this year.

Over the past few years I have drawn a couple of characters after each changeover. Mollie, the proprietor of Monkswell Manor, where the action is set, is one I have concentrated on. When passing the theatre last month I noticed that Phoebe Fildes was playing Mollie. I had met her at the Vaudeville earlier this year when she was Lady Stutfield in Oscar Wilde’s A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE and she signed my cast drawing.

Phoebe also played the Girl in the musical ONCE at the Phoenix Theatre and spent two years with the Shakespeare’s Globe’s world tour taking HAMLET to every country on earth with multiple roles, including Ophelia, Gertrude and Horatio. So I had to do a quick sketch of her as Mollie from the publicity stills in front of the theatre, which signed it for me.

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Drawing: The Mousetrap

The Mousetrap

It’s the longest running play in the world. Agatha Christie’s classic ‘whodunnit’ THE MOUSETRAP is into it’s 64th year, opening on London’s West End in 1952. It has run continuously since it’s 25 November opening. Starting at The Ambassadors Theatre, it  moved next door to the larger St Martin’s in March 1974, without skipping a performance, which numbered 25,000 on 18 November 2012.

For some of those years I have been meaning to do a sketch to pay homage to it’s endurance and longevity. In fact my rendering urges began as far back as the early 1990’s. The  murder mystery’s cast has changed regularly since the original production, which included Sir Richard Attenborough. It was only a matter of finding out the cast members, which number 8 and do the deed. Over time I have made half-hearted attempts, but last December I was determined to complete the task.

I found out the cast and collected production snaps from various sources, including the theatre stills and drew my MOUSETRAP montage. Playing the parts of Molly and Giles Ralston, Christopher Wren, Mrs Boyle, Major Metcalf, Miss Casewell, Mr Paravicini and Detective Sergeant Trotter were, in no particular order, Claire Cartwright, Eleanor Cox, Henry Devas, Timothy Knightly, Phillip Langthorne. Audrey Palmer, Robert Rees and Ian Targett. I duly drew the aforementioned  and wrote a covering letter, explaining my elongated mission. Just before I was about to complete the sketch I checked to make sure the cast were still appearing. They were not! They finished their run the day before. Curses. The nearly completed sketch is attached below as evidence.

The incoming cast for the 2016 season were already on the boards. Eddie Eyre, Emma Deegan, Rob Heanley, Philip Cox, Eunice Roberts, Jocasta King, Timothy O’Hara and Laurence Kennedy quickly found their characters scribbled in 4B across a clean A4 sheet and delivered to them in a not-so-plain brown envelope. They all signed it. Mission accomplished.

The Mousetrap 2