Review: Timeless Agatha Christie murder mystery is a real thriller at Buxton Opera House

The cast of The Mousetrap which is currently being performed at Buxton Opera House.The cast of The Mousetrap which is currently being performed at Buxton Opera House.
The cast of The Mousetrap which is currently being performed at Buxton Opera House.
As the curtain lifts we’re enveloped in the grandeur of Monkwell manor as a murky blizzard rages outside and the news of a murder breaks over the wireless.

The exceptional staging for Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap at the Buxton Opera House draws us in instantly and within the splendour of the manor’s sitting room we’re already sizing up the characters for their potential homicidal tendencies.

There’s a reason we’re instantly engaged – this is the world’s longest-running play and the thrilling West End production is the genre-defining murder mystery from the best-selling novelist of all time.

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This 70th anniversary tour opened at the Theatre Royal Nottingham, where it held its original world premiere in 1952. The iconic thriller is now visiting over 70 venues across the country, including all cities to which it originally played 70 years ago. It continues its record-breaking engagement at the St Martin’s Theatre having been performed there over 29,000 times, selling over 10 million tickets.

Todd Carty as Major Metcalfe.Todd Carty as Major Metcalfe.
Todd Carty as Major Metcalfe.

We have a stellar cast to bring this classic to life too. Rachel Dawson (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, A Christmas Carol) appears as Mollie Ralston and welcomes each of our suspects as news of the murder in London spreads.

Todd Carty (Grange Hill,EastEnders, The Bill) is a lifelong fan of Christie’s work and revels in his portrayal of the affable and puffed-up Major Metcalfe – prompting more than a few chortles to ripple across the packed stalls.

But when Detective Sgt. Trotter arrives, skillfully played by Garyn Williams (The Corn Is Green) the guests discover – to their horror – that a killer is in their midst.

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It’s clear that the amateur sleuths among this evening’s audience are already drawing their own conclusions as the some of the characters’ behaviour draws ‘ooohs’ and murmurs of suspicion from every quarter of the opera house.

The perfectly timed sound production and effects also deserve mention for helping to seamlessly lend real depth and atmosphere.

The touring cast also includes Catherine Shipton (Casualty) as the cantankerous Mrs Boyle and the crowd delight in seeing her character taken down a peg or two as she bemoans the state of the manor’s amenities.

Meanwhile, Michael Lyle (Amadeus & A Christmas Carol) plays Mollie’s husband – the quick to judge Giles Ralston.

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Shaun McCourt (Blood Brothers UK Tour, War Horse) is the hyperactive and quirky Christopher Wren; Leigh Lothian (Chariots of Fire) appears as the aloof Miss Casewell, with Steven Elliott (The Crown, Holby City) as the mysterious Mr Paravicini.

Part of the mystique of The Mousetrap is that audiences are sworn to secrecy not to give away the killer’s identity and this reviewer will certainly not be the first in its long running history to break the silence – you will have to use your own powers of deduction.

I will say, however, that my own initial conclusions proved to be incorrect!

The Mousetrap runs until Saturday, September 23 at the opera house and I would encouarge theatre-goers to catch this thrilling production while it is playing in the gem of Derbyshire’s performance venues.

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Next up at the opera house – and celebrating the 25th anniversary of the film on a major national tour – The Full Monty hits the stage on September 26.

Tickets for The Mousetrap cost from £26. For more information go to

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