Is one truly a fan of murder mystery if one has never picked up an Agatha Christie novel? I'd like to think so, as I'm ashamed to say I'm one of those people. Though I have seen the odd Agatha Christie adaptation on the small screen, more recently the brilliant BBC series And Then There Were None, this would be my first immersion fully into Christie's world, and what better place to start than the world's longest-running play, The Mousetrap?
Note that there will be no spoilers here. Leaving the mystery and twist of The Mousetrap for those who go and see the show is something we're asked to do by the cast when all is said and done, and so it's something we're willing to honour. Plus, revealing the murderer for those who haven't seen it would truly take out some of the shock and surprise of the story.
Instead we'll focus on the cast's performances. Louise Jameson is a frightfully bitchy Mrs Boyle. Stepping into the role perfectly, she radiates upper class snobbery and even weaves in a couple of lines relating to the current Brexit events taking place in the UK. Allowing the cast to remain topical meant that the perfect balance of humour and dark goings on was achieved.
Anna Andresen and Nick Barclay were a delight as Mollie and Giles Ralston, a freshly married couple that were opening their guest house to the public for the first time. The chemistry between the two was brilliant and it's clear to see why both actors were chosen for the roles.
Tony Boneza is quiet throughout most of the show as Major Metcalf, with a stern yet fair grip on proceedings. He's almost the opposite of Lewis Collier's Sgt Trotter, who at times seems a little hapless as the leading officer of the case. Collier brings a great sense of realism to the role of the man looking to solve a crime whilst cut off from the rest of his team. He's desperate in his search for answers and justice and that radiates from the stage.
Gregory Cox is a hilarious Mr Paravicini. Though some would say he overacts at times, he's that comical character that fits neatly into proceedings. Oliver Gully is another who plays an over-the-top role with Christopher Wren. The two add to the humourous side of things, whilst the rest of the cast balances that out with their serious take.
Finally, Amy Downham is hugely impressive as the enigmatic Miss Casewell. Holding a secret close to her chest, you can't help but want to hear all about her backstory despite not initially knowing much about her at all.
The set itself is a gorgeous and imaginative affair. The audience are brought right into the guest house - you feel a part of the show rather than just somebody watching a performance.
Its final twist is a great one and The Mousetrap is a must-see for anybody into their whodunnits.
The show runs in the Opera House, Manchester to Saturday, July 2.