MRS Boyle, the character played by Gwyneth Strong in a touring version of the iconic play The Mousetrap, has been described as a woman always in a bad temper who complains about everything.

It is is a role to relish for Strong, best know as Cassandra in the long-running sitcom Only Fools And Horses.

The actress has been looking forward to tackling the part ever since she was cast in the play, which is visiting Darlington’s Hippodrome Theatre for a week from the end of this month.

The murder mystery play, famously the longest running West End show in history, is presently touring the country’s regional theatres.

It is faithful in every way to the Agatha Christie original, which is continuing its uninterrupted London run and which now extends to more than 26,000 performances

Speaking during rehearsals for the show Strong says: “I’m very excited about it. It’s exactly the same production and exactly as Agatha Christie imagined it to be

“I’ve never done any Agatha Christie before and I quite fancy this style of theatre.

“I’ve done a lot of fringe theatre and smaller venues, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Strong says she was aware of the play’s history but admits to never having previously seen it or read the book on which it is based.

“I didn’t really know what to expect when I settled down to read it when the job came around, but now I’m completely sucked in – I loved it,” she says.

“I thought this is what Agatha Christie’s so good at, creating these amazing characters.”

Strong feels Christie is very good at writing interesting women like the querulous Mrs Boyle. She finds Christie’s female characters “fascinating”, especially considering the time in which she was writing.

“I think Agatha Christie writes really well for women and her female characters are complex – my character’s very difficult and very serious,” she says.

“I feel as an actor you’re just drawn to the character or you’re not and I was really drawn to her - that’s what got me.”

She describes Mrs Boyle as “very funny and bombastic” and adds: “I wish I shared her confidence at being that angry but I’m the opposite, I bury any anger and let it out at all the wrong times.

“I really admire that she’s in the moment, she’s angry and she’s not afraid to let you know it.”

The actress is, of course, most famous for portraying another strong woman, Cassandra from Only Fools and Horses – a role she first played 30 years ago.

The sitcom was short on female characters when it started its run and Strong herself thought she would only be involved in two episodes.

But writer John Sullivan, who Strong describes as “a genius”, had other ideas and the role grew, along with the show and the characters in it.

“I think John felt that it would be the inevitable growing up of their lives really,” says Strong. “That’s what was going to happen, they were going to move on with their lives.

“It’s a tribute to him that the comedy has transcended all this time.”

Transcending time is a phrase which could also be applied to The Mousetrap.

The play had its world premiere in Nottingham in October 1952. After a pre-West End tour it began its London run the following month at the Ambassadors Theatre.

It ran there until Saturday, March 23, 1974, when it immediately transferred to the larger St Martin’s Theatre, next door, where it reopened on Monday, March 24 to maintain its ‘initial run’ status.

And it appears that it is the history of the production, as much as the play itself, that people are drawn to.

“Everybody I’ve mentioned it to has been so positive about it,” says Strong.

“A lot of people who have seen it say they really enjoyed it, they feel part of something. That’s what people seem to feed back, they’ve gone to see a bit of history.”

“I think it also gets reinvented with every cast so there’s always something new to take away from it too.”

Strong says she enjoys touring round the country and is looking forward to returning to Darlington and to seeing the town’s theatre for the first time since it was refurbished.

“I don’t do it very often. I really do enjoy going round the country to different theatres and places, perhaps places I wouldn’t choose to go to, and discover them.

“It’s nice to completely immerse yourself in a job, to get on the road and have a break from domesticity. I always like going to new towns and cities, visiting the local beauty spots and galleries, and I often use the time to do some writing as well.”

Strong is hoping the Darlington audience will feel the same connection with The Mousetrap as those in London.

At the end of each London performance, theatre-goers are asked not to divulge the identity of the killer so as not to spoil the ending for future audiences.

Although Strong says she was not given any instruction about not revealing any of the plot, it is a tradition she is keen to uphold.

“I think may be I’d be in deep trouble if I just let anything out, so I won’t be saying anything,” she says.

l The Mousetrap runs at Darlington Hippodrome from Monday, April 29 to Saturday, May 4. Performances start at 7.30pm.

For more information or to book call 01325-405405 or visit