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Dial M For Murder at Churchill Theatre, Bromley | Review

Dial M For Murder is probably best known for the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock film version starring Grace Kelly and Ray Milland. However, Frederick Knott’s thriller was first seen on BBC Television in 1952 before transferring to the Westminster Theatre later that year and it’s been performed on stage ever since as a staple of repertory companies all over the country.

Now, having been postponed a number of times due to covid, this latest production is finally touring the UK for most of 2021 starting at the Leicester Curve and ending up at the Malvern Festival Theatre at the end of the year and includes a week at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley.

It’s a perfect play for a tour as there is only one set – a front room in a house in Maida Vale superbly designed by David Woodhead. There are only four actors although one has to double-up so it’s compact without too many difficult technicalities. The production has been updated a little and is now set around the mid-sixties although this really doesn’t make any difference to the plot.

Dial M For Murder tells the story of champion tennis player Tony Wendice, played by Strictly Come Dancing winner Tom Chambers who wants to murder his wife Margot (Diana Vickers) partly because she’s having an affair with the crime writer Max Halliday (Michael Salami) but mainly to get his hands on her money because he’s broke – this is before tennis went professional. He’s too much of a coward to do it himself, so he blackmails an old school friend, Charles Swann (Christopher Harper) to do it for him and he sets up an elaborate scheme to do with a latchkey, so he has a cast-iron alibi. But things inevitably go wrong and when Inspector Hubbard (also played by Harper) gets on the case he realises there’s something amiss with Wendice’s story and it’s his job to make sure the truth comes out.

Whilst the play is well directed by Anthony Banks, this excellent production of Knott’s play, can be a bit clunky and old fashioned at times. Whilst the four actors are all very good, some of the staging is a bit odd, with strange movements as the actors cross the stage. At one time Harper as the policeman does an Elvis Presley dance – an homage to Chambers’ Strictly performances? Also, the actual murder isn’t very convincing at all and could have been staged with more conviction and believability.

At times the play creaks and groans and shows its age – well it is nearly 70 years old. But the many twists and turns keep the viewer interested right to the end as they wait to see the denouement. It’s perfect escapism from the difficult times we’ve all been living through recently and it transports the audience back to a simpler time when tennis players weren’t paid, people used latchkeys and to Dial M For Murder, you actually had to put your finger in the phone’s dial.

3 Star Review

Review by Alan Fitter

Can you ever get away with the perfect crime?
A brand-new production of the blueprint for the modern thriller, Dial M for Murder is back.

Dial M For Murder at Churchill TheatreTV and stage favourite, Tom Chambers, (Top Hat, Strictly Come Dancing) stars as the charismatic and manipulative Tony Wendice, a jaded ex-tennis pro who has given it all up for his wife Margot, played by Diana Vickers, West End star (Little Voice), no.1 chart-topping recording artist and The X Factor finalist. When he discovers she has been unfaithful his mind turns to revenge and the pursuit of the ‘perfect crime’.

Made famous by Alfred Hitchcock’s world-renowned film of 1950, the iconic Dial M for Murder will leave you spellbound as Tony becomes more tangled in the web of his own making. Also starring Christopher Harper (Coronation Street), this ultimate masterclass in suspense is guaranteed to entwine you with its spine-chilling twists and turns.

Dial M for Murder is the definitive seat-gripping drama that is not to be missed!

Churchill Theatre
High Street, Bromley, BR1 1HA
Tue 21 – Sat 25 September 2021
https://churchilltheatre.co.uk/

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