Dial M for Murder

Dial M etc. London Rep 1

London Repertory Players' 2017 summer programme at the Shelley Theatre

Dial M for Murder: The Shelley Theatre, Bournemouth (Tuesday 8th August, 2017).

Before mobile phones, DNA analysis and cutting-edge forensic science spoiled the fun for whodunnit writers it was a golden age for a certain type of crime thriller.

With little more to concern crime scene investigators than an occasional fingerprint, the best murder stories were works of great imagination with few external restraints. One of the classics was Frederick Knott’s 1950s play Dial M for Murder, a  compelling tale of betrayal, blackmail and murder most horrid.

Alfred Hitchcock famously turned it into a  hit film starring  Ray Milland and Grace Kelly. Now the London Repertory Players  are  presenting a nostalgic revival at the Shelley Theatre. The play is staged as part of a summer season that also boasts productions of Neil Simon’s Come Blow Your Horn and NJ Crisp’s Dangerous Obsession.

It works a treat evoking memories of weekly rep and the days when crime thrillers featured solid, reliable detectives who could outwit the cleverest killer equipped with just a raincoat, pipe and trilby.

Dial M for Murder finds washed-up tennis star Tony Wendice, miserable in a loveless marriage, plotting to kill his wealthy wife. He blackmails a reluctant hitman into committing the dastardly deed but the perfect crime goes horribly wrong and he finds himself in a battle of wits with wily police inspector Hubbard.

Al Wadlan and Mark Spalding are excellent as Wendice and Hubbard as they struggle to out-manoeuvre one another. Wendice’s hapless wife is played by Cecily Nash with Nicholas Murchie as the hired hand and Laurent Zhubi as friend Max Halliday - a crime writer who has unwittingly triggered the deadly plot. A nice touch that. There’s a simple but effective living-room set and the play, despite its impressively convoluted plot, fairly zips along.

This is the second year at the Shelley for the London Repertory Players and their annual season at this excellent little theatre is hopefully now established as an annual summer event.

This small team of actors working under producer/director Vernon Thompson seem to have a rare understanding of the kind of thrillers and comedies that work in a situation like this.

Interestingly they are operating with a midweek changeover of production so that traditional Saturday to Saturday holidaymakers get the opportunity to see at least two shows.

Jeremy Miles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Jeremy Miles 2017