London and the Mousetrap
Wednesday was a leisurely day for roaming around London and generally seeing the sites. Early in the day we spotted one of the ubiquitous London Cabs, it was sitting still, as they rarely do. This driver was just in the shop taking a break, then back to rushing around the streets like a madman.
We discovered all the cabs are made by the same company for the express purpose of carrying passengers safely and comfortably. Might explain why they all look alike, mostly black, although we saw a few painted in gaudy colors.
Like all tourists, we wanted to know where to have "High Tea" while we were in London. And of course the best place would be at "The Ritz." Well lo and behold the Ritz is on Piccadilly about a mile from our hotel and we wondered into it quite by accident. On the ground floor in the center of the hotel is the Tea Room.
The cost for Tea at the Ritz is around £60 each and you have to dress, so we decided to skip it this time. Maybe next trip? The concierge says the Queen has Tea with them periodically, at those prices you'd have to be a Queen to afford it!
The Royal Academy of Arts is also on Piccadilly along with myriad shops and restaurants. We found several large department stores and book stores on the main drag and what passes for shopping malls in the alley ways between stores.
Somehow I had the area around Piccadilly associated with rowdy pubs and generally a lower class area. Not so! About the only rowdy pubs along Piccadilly are the London Hard Rock Cafe on the Hyde park end of the street and of course the joints in the Soho district north of Piccadilly Circus.
We asked somebody what was meant by circus associated with intersections. Sure felt dumb when we were told it merely means circle, as in traffic circle.
Piccadilly Circus sort of defines the boundary for the entertainment areas in Soho to the North as well as the Theatre district to the East around Leicester Square. The central location makes it a good stop to roam around and see a lot of the entertainment available in London. It is also very close to many fine eating establishments and expensive shopping.
We walked and shopped until we were ready to drop. Now it was time to go back to our hotel and get ready for the evenings entertainment. Besides we certainly weren't dressed for dinner and the theatre. A couple of showers later and we were ready for whatever the evening had to offer.
THE MOUSETRAP was a choice among a dozen or more top Broadway plays being staged in London at any given time. None of the plays had any special appeal to Ron, and choosing the play was too complex a task to do on such short notice. So the choice for the evening fell on Mary Jo and since she is an Agatha Christie fan she chose Agatha Christie's "Mousetrap" playing at the St. Martins Theatre.
The Mousetrap has been playing at the St. Martins Theatre continuously for over 47 years. They must be doing something right! Among all the plays in town when we were there, the Mousetrap was a very good choice.
When it was time to pick up our show tickets and go out for dinner we hailed one of the London Cabs.
The cabs are incredibly roomy inside and built for comfort. It was a little like riding in a limousine. And they certainly do dash about, could scare you to death. Fortunately the drivers are very good at what they do.
When we arrived at the theatre and picked up our tickets we still had plenty of time to eat out. Since we were close we walked over to a bustling, Art Deco style club in the Soho district and had a nice snack before the show.
The St. Martins is an old classic theatre and has been beautifully preserved. The interior is decorated with heavy upholstery and cherry wood paneling, wow what a gorgeous place. Everything about it makes a person feel at home.
Well enough about the theatre, what about the show?
The play is adapted from the Agatha Christie story "Three Blind Mice." It is a complicated plot with, of course, a surprise ending. At the end of the play the cast asked us not to reveal the ending, so we shall not.
The cast did a wonderful job of holding us on the edges of our seats throughout the play. They were following in the footsteps of a world renowned cast, such as Sir Richard Attenborough, who played Detective Sergeant Trotter during the first two years.
The play has of course received rage reviews by people like Sir Winston and Lady Churchill and the British Royalty. No wonder it just goes on and on. The night we attended was the 19,329th time the play had been done in the St. Martins.
On January 12th, 1976, Agatha Christie passed away in her home in Wallingford, Oxon, at age 85. The lights outside the St. Martins were dimmed, but the show went on and goes on!