Review: The Mousetrap, Grand Opera House, York, until Saturday. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at

WHEN The Mousetrap opened in 1952, expectations were low. Its author, Agatha Christie, wasn’t sure it would do well.

However, the whodunit, set in Berkshire, where Christie also resided, went on to be one of the theatre world’s most enduring successes. It has been performed constantly for 66 years, has been seen by millions, and continues to tour since taking to the road in 2012. This week it is playing the Grand Opera House for the third time in six years.

It’s a play from another time. The plummy accents that the actors use evoke a post-war, conservative England, all jolly hockey sticks and allusions to marmalade. There are references to servants, food rationing and foreigners. Some Brexit fans might enjoy this backward glance to Britain’s vanished past.

The plot is far-fetched: a group of strangers assemble at Monkswell Manor, the home and embryonic guest house of Mollie and Giles Ralston (Harriet Hare and Nick Biadon), just as a murder has happened. It’s winter, and outside, the snow is piling up, preventing people from coming or going to the house. The assembled characters are all faintly eccentric. "All our guests are unpleasant or odd," says Giles.

The set – a large reception room of the Manor – is convincingly realistic, with period rugs, armchairs and wood panelling. The cast are uniformly strong, doing their best with slightly clichéd characters: Lewis Chandler, who studied at the University of York from 2010 to 2013, keeps the audience giggling with his portrayal of the outlandish architect, Christopher Wren. John Griffiths seems very at home as Major Metcalf; David Alcock provides further light moments as Mr Paravicini. Completing the company are Gwyneth Strong's Mrs Boyle, Geoff Arnold's Detective Sgt Trotter and Saskia Vaigncourt-Strallen's Miss Caswell.

The inclusion of This Old House by Rosemary Clooney is slightly misjudged: it was a hit in 1954, but the play came out two years earlier, and the pop song sounds out of place.

In an age of gruesome television dramas, The Mousetrap feels anachronistic, but it has endured because, for the most part, it’s light, bloodless and has no bad language. There’s just enough psychological nuance and touches of darkness to keep the audience involved.

There’s also a hint of melodrama, stretching back to Victorian theatre and Shakespeare. As a nation, we’re mostly calm and rational, but we love a bit of theatrical excitement.

Miles Salter