AGATHA Christie’s The Mousetrap is a legend among plays.

Opening in 1952, no one could have foreseen the work’s amazing longevity and popularity.

The author herself modestly predicted the play would run for about eight months, its producer estimating a slightly longer shelf-life of 14 months, yet 60 years later it is still going strong.

And the audience at The Mayflower on Monday evening proved it is still a huge draw, with a full house taking advantage of the tour of the country being undertaken in celebration of the play’s diamond anniversary.

They weren’t disappointed.

This is a classic whodunit that is suitable for anyone of any age and has a timeless appeal, and not just for fans of murder mysteries.

It has moments of pathos and moments of subtle humour, and it keeps you guessing to the end; in typical Christie fashion, any one of the characters on the stage could be the guilty party and any or all of them could be harbouring a secret or two.

The entire play is set in one room of a newly-opened guest house.

None of those arriving to stay are known to each other or to the young, newly-wed owners of the house.

There is a murderer on the loose and they are snowed in and unable to escape.

It is tense in parts, funny in others, always witty and very entertaining.

When asked why she thought it was so successful, the author replied: “It is the sort of play you can take anyone to. It’s not really frightening.

“It’s not really horrible. It’s not really a farce, but it has a little bit of all these things, and perhaps that satisfies a lot of different people”.

That analysis seems as valid today as it did in her lifetime.

Morwenna Blake