Dial M for Murder (4 stars)

This article is from 2020

Dial M for Murder

credit: Manuel Harlan

Can the perfect crime result in the perfect play?

Best known as Alfred Hitchcock's wildly atmospheric 1954 film, Dial M for Murder's original play version is considerably more muted than its successor, lacking the climactic chiaroscuro lighting and jarring camera angles that made the film so striking. This is not to say, however, that it is wanting in theatricality. Without Hitchcock's characteristic aesthetic propelling the tension, this revival of Dial M for Murder relies on cleverly ambiguous dialogue and engrossing performances to build suspense, resulting in a less evocative but more characterful experience.

Tom Chambers plays the charming yet devious Tony Wendice, intent on executing the perfect crime after he discovers his wife Margot, played by Sally Bretton, has been having an illicit love affair. Chambers and Bretton, supported by Michael Salami as Margot's lover, seamlessly shoulder the bulk of the action, yet it is Christopher Harper – playing an old classmate of Tony's in the first act and a police detective in the second – who is most memorable, switching impeccably from genial old boy down on his luck to Northern no-nonsense detective.

This is theatre at its most old-school: set up as a one room play, the staging is masterful yet familiar, the twists and turns shocking yet welcome, and the acting sharp yet accessible. It may not be particularly ambitious or daring, but there is something to be said for teaching Frederick Knott's original script a few new tricks.

Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Tue 3–Sat 7 Mar, then touring.

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information displayed here is accurate, always check with the venue before attending (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic).

Dial M for Murder

When Tony discovers that his wealthy wife Sheila has been having an adulterous affair with crime writer Max, he decides to go to extreme lengths to keep his hands on her money. But will his plans survive their execution?

Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Tue 19 Oct

£15–£45 / 0114 249 6000

Wed 20 Oct

£15–£45 / 0114 249 6000

Thu 21 Oct

£15–£45 / 0114 249 6000

…and 2 more dates until 23 Oct