Student Question

What was Christopher Wren hiding behind in The Mousetrap?

Quick answer:

In The Mousetrap, Christopher Wren, hides behind a curtain in the Great Hall of Monkwell Manor for no apparent reason, where he eavesdrops on a conversation between Mollie Ralston, the owner of the manor, and her husband, Giles.

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In 1947, famed mystery writer Agatha Christie wrote a half-hour radio play, Three Blind Mice, which was broadcast as part of an evening of radio programs in honor of Queen Mary of England's eightieth birthday.

Christie adapted the radio play into a short story that was published in Cosmopolitan magazine in the United States in 1948 and in a collection of Christie's short stories, Three Blind Mice and Other Stories, published in 1950. Interestingly, the first United States publication of Three Blind Mice and Other Stories had an illustration of a mousetrap on the cover.

Christie expanded the half-hour radio play of Three Blind Mice into a full-length theatre play titled The Mousetrap, which was first performed in Nottingham, England, in October, 1952.

The play was transferred to London in November 1952, where it was performed continuously until March, 2020, when it was temporarily discontinued due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Until that time, The Mousetrap had over 28,000 performances and was the longest continuously-running theatrical production in the world.

In the play, the character of Christopher Wren is the first guest to arrive at Monkswell Manor, the guest house in which the play is set.

Christie describes Christopher Wren in the stage notes:

He is a rather wild-looking neurotic young man. His hair is long and untidy and he wears a woven artistic tie. He has a confiding, almost childish manner (1.1).

Christopher meets Mollie Ralston, the owner of the manor, who takes a liking to him, and her husband, Giles, who takes an instant dislike to him, which Christopher doesn't fail to notice.

CHRISTOPHER. I don't believe your husband is going to like me (1.1).

In time, it becomes clear that Christopher Wren isn't who he says he is.

MOLLIE. Are you a painter?

CHRISTOPHER. No, I'm an architect. My parents, you know, baptized me Christopher, in the hope that I would be an architect. Christopher Wren! (1.1)

Like nearly everyone else in the play, Christopher is hiding a past that becomes known during the course of the play.

While Christopher goes to settle himself into his room, Mrs. Boyle and Major Metcalf arrive. Christopher returns to the Great Hall, where he meets Mrs. Boyle. Christopher has a few words to say about her to Giles.

CHRISTOPHER. (to Giles) I think that's a perfectly horrible woman. I don't like her at all. I'd love to see you turn her out into the snow. Serve her right (1.1).

Christopher meets another guest. Miss Caswell, with whom he has a brief conversation about a recent murder in London, until she decides to follow Mollie's suggestion and take hot bath.

Christopher is left alone in the Great Hall, and he decides to do some exploring.

Left alone, CHRISTOPHER rises and makes an exploration. He opens the door, peeps in and then exits. A moment or two later he reappears on the stairs. He crosses to the arch, and looks off. He sings "Little Jack Horner" and chuckles to himself, giving the impression of being slightly unhinged mentally (1.1).

Christopher hears Mollie and Giles returning down the stairs, and, for no apparent reason, he hides behind the curtain.

Giles and Millie discuss making dinner, and Christopher comes from behind the curtain—Mollie and Giles don't seem at all surprised to see him—to make a suggestion about the dinner.

CHRISTOPHER. And if you've got a bottle of cheap, any type wine, you could add it to the—"minced beef and cereals," did you say? Give it a Continental flavour. Show me where the kitchen is and what you've got, and I daresay I shall have an inspiration (1.1).

Mollie and Christopher go into the kitchen. Giles mumbles "something uncomplimentary to Christopher" behind his back, then picks up the newspaper, and "stands reading it with deep attention" (1.1).

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