STAGE REVIEW: The Mousetrap - at the Festival Theatre, Malvern, from Monday, July 15 to Saturday, July 20, 2019.

JUST a touch over 65 years on stage and still going strong. Just what is the appeal of Agatha Christie’s vintage who-dunnit, The Mousetrap?

Retirement has usually beckoned on this figure but this mystery-thriller shows little or no sign of chucking it in just yet - and that’s simply because it’s one of the best of its genre.

Take a country house - way out in the wilds, roads cut off due to a heavy snowfall, and the phone line cut. Also a strange and eclectic group of guest’s for the hotel’s unforgettable first night and, of course, a murderer in their midst!

Throw in Christie’s astonishing writing skills with how she weaves the plot together and there’s everything there, all geared for success. And it shows no sign of abating.

What more could you want in the mix?

Some theatre-goers might feel it is time to call it a day having been round the block a few times, but The Mousetrap is still pulling in the audiences both on this tour and in the West End where the play is now approaching its 70th year - the longest running stage production ever.

It has that certain appeal and is, as always, eminently watchable and entertaining.

The play is set in the Great Hall of Monkswell Manor, in what Christie described as ‘the present, although it is in effect the early 1950s. Not a mobile ‘phone in sight…

It stars Susan Penhaligon, perfect as the oh so critical Mrs Boyle, a bit of a battle-axe, who hardly has a good word to say about anything.

Sgt Trotter is convincingly played by Geoff Arnold and there are a number of other impressive performances such as David Alcock’s delightful Mr Paravicini, a mix of mirth and mystery who arrives unexpectedly, claiming his car has skidded off the road, and Saskia Vaigncourt-Strallen’s somewhat butch and aloof Miss Casewell.

And then there’s Lewis Chandler’s hyper-active and high-pitched character Christopher Wren. He’s likeable but is a young man who acts in a very peculiar manner - running, as he is, away from life’s responsibilities.

As befits the tradition associated with the play the ‘police officer’ ends the performance with an appeal to the audience not to divulge to anyone who did it…

Considering the show must now be in the region of 28,000 performances or thereabouts you have to be suspicious that someone, somewhere may have broken that vow of secrecy!