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Sit back and enjoy tale that has fascinated millions

The Mousetrap, Belgrade, Coventry, to April 13. Agatha Christie’s play has been performed in London’s West End since 1952, the longest run of any play, and this classic can now be seen in Coventry. There are the usual elements of a Christie story to enjoy: a setting from which there is no escape, a group of strangers thrown together in a plausible manner, a murder, an investigator, and some red herrings thrown in for good measure. It's set is the post-war period, so some elements feel dated – references to servants and checking people’s ID in their ration books - but that adds to the charm. Giles and Mollie Ralston open their guest house Monkswell Manor to paying customers as heavy snow starts to fall. Christopher Wren, played with an amusing campness and maddening laugh by Lewis Chandler, arrives first, followed by stern Mrs Boyle (Gwyneth Strong, who played Cassandra in TV's Only Fools and Horses). Major Metcalf turns up exhibiting all the retired military stereotypes, and Miss Casewell shocks them in her trousersuit. After the expected guests, Mr Paravicini knocks on the door, looking for a place to stay after crashing his high-end car into a snowdrift - or so he says. They settle in, listening to a radio report of a grisly London murder...and then Sgt Trotter, played with a heavy copper’s accent and manner by Geoff Arnold, arrives to tell them the shocking news that the murderer is amongst them, and has plans for someone else in the house. But he intends to find out who the killer and intended victim are. The scene is now set for an evening of intrigue and twists, and even though it all feels as though it comes from a different era, it’s great to just sit back and enjoy the story that has fascinated millions.

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