Murder in the hills
Catch an Indian adaptation of Agatha Christie's famous mystery, The Mousetrap, set in contemporary Shimla
When iconic detective novelist Agatha Christie wrote a short radio play called Three Blind Mice in 1947, little did she know that it would continue to be performed 70 years later, becoming the longest-running play in the world. The murder mystery was renamed as The Mousetrap when adapted for the stage. And as you read this article, a Londoner is perhaps making a plan to catch a show tonight at West End, where it has been running since 1952.
If that seems a little too far, students of a Mumbai-based acting school are presenting a contemporary Indian adaptation of the play tonight, as part of the final production on the completion of their course.
"When I first read it as a student at the Bhartendu Natya Academy in Lucknow, I had always wanted to situate The Mousetrap in an Indian landscape. Set in Shimla, the fulcrum of The Trap, as we have called the play, is child abuse in an orphanage," says director Anil Kumar Chaudhary. He adds, "After all, what's the point of theatre if it doesn't address issues that compel people to think?"
Anil Kumar Chaudhary
Chaudhary points out, though, that the play is only inspired by Christie's classic, and has been written to suit Indian sensibilities. "Our sense of humour is different as is our outlook on life in general. A lot has also changed since the murder mystery was penned. Besides, since Christie's novels and the tropes used in them are so popular, they have been applied in several Bollywood movies. So, there was a risk of the twists in the original plot appearing cliched," he explains.
Would he give us some hint of how the new murder mystery unfolds? In Chaudhary's hesitation to reveal the plot, we spot one similarity that bridges the 70-year gap and two vastly different geographies — Christie, as it turns out, had asked that a story that she had written based on the radio play, not be published as long as the play ran in West End.
On: Tonight, 7 pm
At: OverAct: The Altermative Theatre Space, Aaram Nagar, Versova, Andheri West.
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