Dial M for Murder
- Anahit Behrooz
- 3 March 2020
This article is from 2020
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.