Headed up by All Creatures Great and Small star Christopher Timothy, Frederick Knott’s thriller Dial M for Murder opened in Manchester this week. Not so much a ‘whodunit’ as we already know that but certainly a ‘who’s going to get the blame for it’.
Originally directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1954 (starring Ray Milland and Grace Kelly), director Lucy Bailey pays homage to the movie by keeping the action in the 1950’s and amongst the pipe smoking and cocktail drinking tells this menacing tale of plotting, attempted murder, actual murder and of course a little dusting of blackmail thrown in for good measure. Mike Britton’s design creates a sinister and intense feel; blood red walls and a revolving stage mirror the twists and turns of the plot, with all the action taking place in just one room.
At the heart of the play is the menacing Tony Wendice (Daniel Betts) who upon discovering his wife Sheila (Kelly Hotten) has been having an affair with Max Halliday (Phillip Cairns) spends a year plotting and planning a devilish way to get rid of his wife for good. The flaw being however that nothing ever goes according to plan, oh and add to this the fact that her lover Max is a crime writer and you can see that perhaps his ‘perfect murder’ isn’t going to be quite so perfect and things are going to get a little interesting for all involved.
The cast although small are strong, Daniel Betts is very impressive as the sinister almost manic Tony Wendice and Christopher Timothy is a convincing Inspector Hubbard. A little slow in getting going this piece really gains momentum once the plotting is done and the action begins. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way and just when you think you know what’s coming next the course of direction changes again, keeping you gripped right to the very end.
Showing at the Opera House until Saturday 10th May