AUTHOR Agatha Christie doesn’t appear to have had much faith in her magnificent creation, famously speculating that its run would probably be little more than a year.

It’s a good job that the queen of crime writers stuck to murder mysteries rather than taking up a career as a clairvoyant. For that was back in 1952… and 60 years later, the public’s appetite for The Mousetrap shows no sign of waning whatsoever.

Little wonder then that this all-star production, a major coup for Malvern Theatres, attracted a capacity crowd on its opening night. For this is indeed the crème de la crème of murder thrillers, the undisputed greatest of them all.

The plot adopts the familiar Christie method of bringing together a disparate group of individuals in a country hotel. A murder has been committed in London and there is every reason to believe that the killer is headed this way.

Once all the guests have arrived, the hotel becomes snowed-in. We now have a captive audience… both onstage and off.

Guest Christopher Wren behaves strangely right from the start, and is played with delicious hyperactivity by Steven France. But hold your horses, folks – this could be the classical Christie smokescreen tactic at work.

So what about the fiendish foreigner Mr Paravicini (Karl Howman), obviously not someone to be trusted? Or could it conceivably be possible that the outwardly respectable proprietors, Mollie and Giles Ralston – serenely portrayed by Jemma Walker and Bruno Langley – have something to hide?

That might just leave the magnificently martial Major Metcalf (Graham Seed) whose predictably Blimp-ish persona surely cannot conceal a murky secret. Or can it? Charged with finding the murderer – now somewhere in the hotel - is Detective Sergeant Trotter (Thomas Howes) a gumshoe of the old school who probably always gets his man.

A fair cop maybe. Or maybe not… This greatest of whodunits runs until Saturday (November 24) and really should not be missed.

For ticket availability, call the box office on 01684 892277.

By John Phillpott