If you play the game Cluedo with your family or love to watch an old-fashioned murder mystery together, then The Mousetrap could be the play for you, according to actor Mark Wynter.

Wynter plays one of the suspects, Mr Paravicini, in the touring production of the Agatha Christie play which opens at Auckland's Waterfront Theatre next month. Set in a genteel country hotel, The Mousetrap is the world's longest running play having opened on London's West End in 1952 and now, seven decades later, been going for twice as long as its nearest competitor.

Despite hardly having moved with the rapidly changing times, it remains hugely popular and Wynter, a 60s' pop star turned actor, thinks that's because of its tone as well as the characters who range in age from their 20s to their golden years.

He was first approached about the role in the London show in 2003, but other commitments meant turning it down. Fortunately, he says, he can still play the part as Paravicini is an older man.

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"There's an interesting chemistry between the characters as you've got Paravicini, who is an older man, then the two young hoteliers Giles and Mollie Ralston, who are newly married as well as Mrs. Boyle, who complains about everything," he says.

"There's also Major Metcalf, who is an older man, and the young boy Christopher Wren, who is rather over the top and forward with his comments and who forms an attachment to Mollie, and then you've got young Sergeant Trotter, so there's a good mix of ages, which means that each member of the audience should be able to identify with somebody on stage."

Wynter believes that The Mousetrap's combination of a thrilling murder mystery and more jovial elements is a big part of its success saying that the production has humour in it, which was one of the hallmarks of Agatha Christie's writing. Playing the enigmatic traveller Paravicini makes Wynter is one of The Mousetrap's main sources of laughter.

"She would build up the tension and then throw in a bit of black comedy that would undercut it and allow her to build the tension back up again."

As with Harry Potter: The Cursed Child, where every performance concludes with a request to "keep the secrets," it's remarkable that the true identity of the culprit in The Mousetrap is not more widely known.

"At the end, we give a short announcement, asking the audience to 'preserve the tradition of The Mousetrap by keeping the secret locked in their hearts,' and people are quite respectful of that,'" he says. "They enjoy the fact that you have a puzzle to solve, so you have to listen to all the clues and make up your own mind as to who is the guilty party."

Granted they might not have actually have committed the crime but everybody in The Mousetrap conceals some insidious secret and the fact that everybody has something to hide makes it all the more exciting.

"None of them are one-hundred per cent what they seem; they're each concealing something about their past or present - as in the case of Mr. Paravicini – and that's intriguing because you want to know more about them, which is really the human quest, isn't it? We're all a little bit nosey, which is why gossip sites and social media are so successful these days, as we all want to find out something about somebody."

Lowdown
What: The Mousetrap
Where & when: ASB Waterfront Theatre, Tuesday, April 2 - Sunday, April 14 before performances in Christchurch and Wellington.

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