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The Mousetrap in Mandarin to debut in London


11:09, October 26, 2012

Chinese actors and actresses are bringing Agatha Christie's masterpiece The Mousetrap to her mother country, as part of celebration for the 60th anniversary of the world's longest-running play.

The show by the Shanghai Modern Theatre will be hosted in the St. Martin Theatre next Sunday evening.

"This is the first time that The Mousetrap is performed in London not in English," said Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen, chairman and producer of the show.

"It is exciting to see the same story pleasing audiences in a different language," he told Xinhua.

Hailed as "one of the most skilfully written murder mysteries ever produced" by the New York Times, The Mousetrap told a story about a group of strangers stranded in a boarding house during a snow storm, when one of them was a murderer. It was premiered in London in 1952.

The play was introduced to China three decades ago, and is currently among the most performed in Shanghai. Founded in 1993, the Shanghai Modern Theatre launched The Mousetrap in 2006.

Zhang Tao, a Shanghai Theatre Academy graduate in 2005, has starred in it for three years. "It is the first time we play in a foreign country and I felt pressured," he said.

The sparkish young man noted that Christie's stories had always been a challenge for actors. "She focuses on the plot and suspension, rather than individual character in her story," he said.

"We have rehearsed for half a month. Luckily the setting and props will be identical as we used in China. Thus we can get adapted to the new environment pretty easily."

As the Mousetrap Productions Limited holds copyright of the play, Chinese actors will perform almost in the same way as their British counterparts do except the language.

Zhang Yu, director of Shanghai Modern Theatre Troupe, hoped that the performance of The Mousetrap could help pave the way for their entry into the British market.

"Western audiences are not familiar with Chinese plays," he said. "The popularity of The Mousetrap itself could make it easier for us to be accepted."

The soft-spoken man has an ambitious plan. "If we succeed this time, we will probably bring along a Shakespeare play next year, and perhaps some Chinese original shows later, so as to promote our art and culture."

Meanwhile, he admitted that they had a lot to learn here.

"In the UK many theatres specialize in one play and perform year after year," he said. "In Shanghai, however, less than one third of our shows could be repeated. Many of them are just like fast food."

"Therefore, we need our own speciality, our own classics, especially original plays," he said.

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