It is a rather remarkable thing that by the time of Agatha Christie’s death in 1976, the worldwide sales of her books (four billion) were exceeded only by the Bible and Shakespeare.
She’s the lady responsible for the likes of TV hits Miss Marple and Poirot, but The Mousetrap is something of a phenomenon.
Christie herself predicted it would “last eight months” when The Mousetrap made its West End debut in 1952. She was a little wide of the mark. It has run ever since.
The Queen came to watch the 50th anniversary production in 2002 and the 25,000th performance took place last November.
Judging by the full house at The Grand Theatre, as the play arrived in Blackpool as part of a UK tour, its appeal shows no sign of diminishing anytime soon.
I had better own up here. I am not really a fan of Christie’s, so sending me to watch this was like buying a rock ‘n’ roll fan tickets to see Westlife.
Yet the play is so well written and so well acted that it kept me interested throughout.
A good, old-fashioned whodunnit, with plenty of humour, the premise is simple: a murder is committed in a guesthouse and it is up to the audience to try and work out who did it. The cast all excelled, particularly Joanna Croll as Mollie Ralston and Karl Howman in the role of mysterious stranger Mr Paravicini.
At the close of the play, as is tradition, the audience are asked to keep the ending a secret. I’ve decided not to do that, and can reveal the murderer is... actually for the sake of those who’ve tickets for the rest of the week in Blackpool, and no doubt the next 61 years and beyond elsewhere, I’ll stay quiet.
It’s a play which isn’t too taxing on the brain, is good fun and keeps you guessing from start to finish.
The Mousetrap is at The Grand until Saturday.