Review: Dial M For Murder, by Frederick Knott, Cambridge Arts Theatre

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- Credit: Manuel Harlan

A gripping “can-he-get- away-with-it?” thriller, Dial M for Murder is a stage classic. And there’s no doubt this production, directed by Lucy Bailey, does Frederick Knott’s masterpiece justice.

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- Credit: Manuel Harlan

Cocktails and lounge suits, flowing frocks and cigarettes – Sheila and Tony Wendice enjoy elegant living in their Maida Vale flat. But all is not what it seems. Sheila has a secret and Tony has revenge in his hardened heart. And as the plot unfurls, we see the world through the eyes of Tony as he plans the murder of his rich wife. Daniel Betts strikes just the right note of malicious charm as Tony and as the plot unfurls it soon becomes clear what a nasty bit of work he really is as he plans the murder of his rich wife. Philip Cairns gives a quality performance as Sheila’s lover, Max Halliday. And Kelly Hotten is on top form as the glamorous Sheila and is spot on as she portrays the increasingly confused, vulnerable, and dominated wife. A tale of blackmail, illicit liaisons, latchkeys, and the brooding presence of the large red telephone, the tension builds from the start as Tony brings Captain Lesgate into his evil scheme. And when everything doesn’t go according to plan, the boys in blue turn up in the shape of Christopher Timothy playing Inspector Hubbard. With a smattering of humour, the audience is engaged throughout as the excellent 1950s revolving set – quite a nice touch – and props, some clever lighting and musical additions add to the suspense. Such a cleverly written play and imaginatively directed, this production of Dial M For Murder is excellent entertainment.

JAMES MARSTON

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