Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap was first presented, by Peter Saunders, at the Ambassadors Theatre in London on 25 November 1952, with a cast which included the young Richard Attenborough. Today, it is a legendary tourist attraction, the longest continuously running play in theatrical history, the world over. Originally a short radio play entitled Three Blind Mice, it was commissioned in 1947 by the BBC to celebrate the birthday of Queen Mary, a Christie fan. The author turned it into a short story, as well as a stage play, but for many years she suppressed publication of the story in the UK, for fear that its widespread dissemination would harm audience enthusiasm for the play. But the text has now been easily obtainable for many years – and still the audiences roll in to the St Martin’s Theatre. By any standards, The Mousetrap is a British institution.
Already by 1958, its longevity was remarkable. To celebrate the sixth anniversary of the first performance, a special boxed version of the first edition of the play (published in 1954) was produced and, apparently, presented to each member of the cast. This copy was inscribed by Christie to Mysie Monte, who played the part of Mrs Boyle for more than eleven years – until she was 75. The inscription reads: ‘For Mysie Monte (who did not die in vain!) on our 6th birthday’.
Mysie Monte was an actress about whom I have little information. One assumes that much of her career was on the stage, but she took minor parts in episodes of two successful TV series, ‘The Troubleshooters’ and ‘Paul Temple’.