Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Longest running show ever tours to Birmingham and Malvern
Whodunnit The Mousetrap may be getting on past 60 but she's got plenty of life in her yet. Like a favourite aunt, there's a sentimentality and familiarity for its quintessential murder mystery routine, red herrings and irresistible old English charm.
The Mousetrap is a classic, charming murder mystery.
Despite Queen of Crime Agatha Christie thinking the play would last no longer than eight months back in 1952, it has continued year after year in London's West End - and now theatres across the UK too, thanks to this latest anniversary tour.
I caught the play early on during the tour when it stopped off at Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre from October 6 to 11, ahead of its visit to Malvern Theatres, also in the West Midlands, from October 13 to 18. As soon as you enter the theatre, the ambience grabs you with gramaphone music from the 1930s playing out while you find your seat.
There may be no Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple in this story, but there are plenty of the usual crime ingredients - a lavish old country house where numerous suspects gather and become trapped by snow as dark and deadly deeds take place.
It's a slick affair, which no doubt comes from time, and the choreography is particularly impressive, especially when it comes to what the audience gets to see of the murderer. I don't want to giveaway any spoilers, so I'll leave it there, but it will keep you guessing right up to the final revelation.
In fact, the well-kept secret of The Mousetrap is what has helped maintain its longevity, and there is a personal plea from the cast at the close of the night to keep the murderer's identity "close to your heart".
The play began life as a 30-minute radio drama called Three Blind Mice, which Christie later adapted into The Mousetrap. There's plenty of references to this, like a play within a play, and the nursery rhyme song of Three Blind Mice continually appears in a devilishly haunting manner.
What surprised me about the production was that it has aged so well, easily standing the test of time. it is an easy, watchable drama more than six decades on from its creation when life in Britain was very different. It also has a strong comic element and often plays it for laughs.
The Mousetrap has gone on to become the longest running show in history with more than 25,000 performances over 62 years. It's the epitome of a classic murder mystery and long may she continue.