Interview with Susan Penhaligon – The Mousetrap UK Tour

The Mousetrap starring Susan Penhaligon - Photo by Johann Persson
The Mousetrap starring Susan Penhaligon – Photo by Johann Persson

Susan Penhaligon plays the role of Mrs Boyle in Agatha Christie’s legendary whodunnit this summer as The Mousetrap continues on a major UK tour. Susan Penhaligon took over the role from Gwyneth Strong from 15th July at Malvern Festival Theatre and continues through to and including Birmingham Alexandra Theatre until 16th November 2019. Directed by Gareth Armstrong, the timeless thriller returned to the road by popular demand in January 2019 and has been earning standout reviews from critics and public alike as it continues to visit more than 40 venues, travelling the length and breadth of the country.

Q&A with Susan Penhaligon

Q: How do you feel to be performing in the new UK tour of The Mousetrap and in such an iconic production?
I never thought I’d be in The Mousetrap. I’ve been in two of Agatha Christie’s other plays And Then There Were None and a little known one called Verdict but I’d never seen The Mousetrap or read it. When the part came up, I read the play and I thought ‘wow’, it’s funny, tense, has great characters, brilliant plot, and what struck me was that it was based on a real event – chilling really. Agatha Christie is so clever, there’s always truthful emotion in her plays. She’s the second most-read English writer after Shakespeare so she must have done something right!

You’re well-known for your roles in TV programmes Bouquet of Barbed Wire, A Fine Romance and Emmerdale, to name a few. How does performing on stage compare to screen?
I’ve done a lot of theatre, touring, West End and fringe. I started in a two-weekly rep in Worthing as an acting ASM when I was 21. There isn’t a better way to understand and learn about the theatre. Also, I was trained for the theatre. In the late sixties at drama school, we all hoped we would go to the RSC or the National Theatre which was the Old Vic in those days, that was our aspiration, not TV, certainly not commercials, and films seemed out of our grasp unless we went to Hollywood. But for some reason all through the seventies and eighties, I seemed to land lots of TV and film roles. I just went with the flow. But I always tried to do a play once a year if I could. You have to keep practising to get good at anything.

Are you an Agatha Christie fan?
Yes I am. I’ve read most of her books and I’ve read her biography. I think she’s fascinating.

What can audiences expect from The Mousetrap?
It’s a great story. A guessing game of a whodunnit and a brilliant one at that.

What is your favourite element of Mrs Boyle? Do you share any character traits?
I like Mrs Boyle because she says it as it is, she doesn’t hold back. She’s the type of woman who is used to being in control of situations. Probably to make herself feel safe. I don’t think she feels safe in The Mousetrap! She’s funny too.

What do you think it is about The Mousetrap that has made it the longest-running play in the world and has audiences coming back again and again?
It’s a perfect plot, it’s vintage with very recognisable period characters and it’s spooky. It’s great quality entertainment. I think it’s interesting to see an original play of hers, on the stage, rather than on TV, particularly as it was written for the theatre. It’s a different animal. But I think nowadays, because of the many TV Agatha’s, audiences are familiar with the world they are entering. The pact between actors and audience is made the moment the curtain goes up. I’m sure they think ‘Ah, we know where we are with this one’ and they relax. And the great thing is, no one knows who the murderer is. Unless you’ve been before!

You’ve toured the UK with several stage productions, including Cabaret, Rehearsal for Murder and most recently, Handbagged, what do you most enjoy about touring across the country?
I don’t mind touring, but I also like being at home. I’m quite pragmatic about work. It’s a job, it’s how I earn my living. Like many actors, I’m sometimes out of work. I don’t think I’m special because I’ve been on TV or in a film. I find the celebrity culture these days slightly alarming. Fame for fame’s sake. Actually, I think being an actor, or an entertainer is an important job in society and there’s nothing like live theatre.

Do you have any fond memories or link to the venues/areas you will be touring to with The Mousetrap?
I’m Cornish so the farther West I go, the happier I am. And I love the sea!

Why should people come and see The Mousetrap?
Come see an iconic show and find out why it’s been on for 67 years. It’s a fantastic night out.

LISTINGS

Monday 4 – Saturday 9 November 2019
NEW THEATRE, PETERBOROUGH
www.newtheatre-peterborough.com/
01733 852 992

Monday 11 – Saturday 16 November 2019
THE ALEXANDRA THEATRE, BIRMINGHAM
0844 871 3011

TOUR DATES

Tuesday 21 – Saturday 25 January 2020
POOLE LIGHTHOUSE THEATRE  
www.lighthousepoole.co.uk/
01202 280 000

Monday 27 January – Saturday 1 February 2020
HULL NEW THEATRE   
www.hulltheatres.co.uk/
01482 300 306

Monday 3 – Saturday 8 February 2020
BILLINGHAM FORUM THEATRE  
www.forumtheatrebillingham.co.uk/
01642 552 663

Monday 10 – Saturday 15 February 2020
SWINDON WYVERN THEATRE  
www.swindontheatres.co.uk/
01793 524 481

Monday 17 – Saturday 22 February 2020
YEOVIL OCTAGON THEATRE 
www.octagon-theatre.co.uk/
01935 422 884

Monday 24– Saturday 29 February 2020
PLYMOUTH THEATRE ROYAL
www.theatreroyal.com/
01752 267 222

Monday 9 – Saturday 14 March 2020
LEICESTER HAYMARKET THEATRE 
www.haytheatre.com/
01162 961 236

Monday 16 – Saturday 21 March 2020
AYLESBURY WATERSIDE THEATRE
Book Tickets for Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
08448 717 607

Monday 23 – Saturday 28 March 2020
DONCASTER CAST 
www.castindoncaster.com/
01302 303 959

Monday 30 March – Saturday 4 April 2020
DUBLIN GAIETY THEATRE  
www.gaietytheatre.ie/
0818 719 388

Monday 6 – Saturday 11 April 2020
CORK OPERA HOUSE  
www.corkoperahouse.ie/
+352 (0) 21 427 0022

Tuesday 14 – Saturday 18 April 2020
INVERNESS EDEN COURT
www.eden-court.co.uk/
01463 234 234

Tuesday 21 – Saturday 25 April 2020
TUNBRIDGE WELLS ASSEMBLY HALL THEATRE
www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk/
01892 530 613

Monday 27 April – Saturday 2 May 2020
HASTINGS WHITE ROCK  
www.whiterocktheatre.org.uk/
01424 462 288

Tuesday 5 – Saturday 9 May 2020
WOLVERHAMPTON GRAND THEATRE
www.grandtheatre.co.uk/
01902 429 212

Tuesday 12 – Saturday 16 May 2020
SKEGNESS EMBASSY THEATRE
www.embassytheatre.co.uk/
01754 474 100

Monday 25 – Saturday 30 May 2020
BATH THEATRE ROYAL
www.theatreroyal.org.uk/
01225 448 844

Monday 1 – Saturday 6 June 2020 – *on sale from 8 November
THE COURTYARD HEREFORD  
www.courtyard.org.uk/
01432 340 555

Monday 8 – Saturday 13 June 2020
NEWCASTLE THEATRE ROYAL
www.theatreroyal.co.uk/
08448 112 1 21

Tuesday 16 – Saturday 20 June 2020
SOUTHAMPTON MAYFLOWER
www.mayflower.org.uk/
02380 711 811

Monday 22 – Saturday 27 June 2020  * on sale soon
WESTON-SUPER-MARE PLAYHOUSE THEATRE
www.theplayhouse.co.uk
01934 645 544

Monday 29 June – Saturday 4 July 2020  *on sale from 25 November
SHREWSBURY SEVERN THEATRE
www.theatresevern.co.uk/
01743 281281

Monday 6 – Saturday 11 July 2020
SWANSEA GRAND THEATRE
www.swansea.gov.uk/swanseagrandtheatre
01792 475 715

Monday 13 – Saturday 18 July 2020
MANCHESTER OPERA HOUSE  
Book Tickets for Manchester Opera House
0844 871 3018

Tuesday 25 to Saturday 29 August 2020
BUXTON OPERA HOUSE
https://buxtonoperahouse.org.uk/
01298 72190

Tuesday 1– Saturday 5 September 2020
LEEDS GRAND THEATRE
www.leedsgrandtheatre.com/
08448 482 700

Monday 7 – Saturday 12 September 2020 *on sale soon
IPSWICH REGENT THEATRE  
www.ipswichtheatres.co.uk/
01473 433 100

Monday 14 – Saturday 19 September 2020 *on sale 29 November
CAMBRIDGE CORN EXCHANGE  
www.cambridgelive.org.uk/
01223 357 851

Monday 28 September– Saturday 3 October 2020 *on sale in the new year
NEW BRIGHTON FLORAL PAVILION 
www.floralpavilion.com/
01516 660 000

Monday 5 – Saturday 10 October 2020 – *on sale in December
WELLINGBOROUGH CASTLE THEATRE 
www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk/castle-theatre
01933 270 007

Monday 12– Saturday 17 October 2020 – * general on sale from 22 November
LICHFIELD GARRICK THEATRE  
www.lichfieldgarrick.com/
01543 412 121

Monday 19– Saturday 24 October 2020
KINGS THEATRE EDINBURGH
www.capitaltheatres.com/your-visit/kings-theatre
0131 529 6000

Monday 26– Saturday 31 October 2020
KING’S LYNN CORN EXCHANGE  
www.kingslynncornexchange.co.uk/
01553 764864

Monday 2 – Saturday 7 November 2020 – *on sale 13 December
CHELMSFORD CIVIC THEATRE 
www.chelmsford.gov.uk/theatres/
01245 606 505

THE MOUSETRAP
St Martin’s Theatre
West St, London WC2H 9NZ

The Mousetrap tickets for St Martin’s Theatre, London.

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