Dial M for Murder

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Written by Frederick Knott
Directed by Arthur Whitelaw

Dial Y for Yes

Sixty-three years have passed since Dial M for Murder premiered on British TV. Not a year has gone by, since then, that this psychological thriller has not appeared on some stage — as fresh and tantalizing now as it was then. Frederick Knott’s complex beautifully constructed, witty and captivating plot provided a perfect subject for the ensuing — very successful — Alfred Hitchcock movie starring Grace Kelly and Ray Milland.

Can there be a perfect murder? Will this tell the story of one as devious, disenchanted tennis pro Tony Wendice (Jason Plourde) lays plans to murder his adulterous — and conveniently very wealthy — wife, Margot (Gladys Ramirez). There is the requisite, still interested and faithful lover, Max Halliday (Roy Lynam), the hired accomplice Lesgate (Sean Dorazio), and wonderful police officer Hubbard (Larry Kent Bramble), who is surely an inspiration for future bumbling but wise stage detectives such as Columbo. To add to the convolutions, boyfriend Max is a crime novelist, the perfect foil to pose his own interpretation of what ensues.

murder 1

Of course, there is a murder. But who is the victim? Of course, there is a murderer, but who is the villain? Max notes, “In murder stories, the crime always turns out as the author plans. In real life, they never do.”What fine irony here — in a story, a mirror of reality.

The fun here is that the audience knows the truth and must watch, and hope, for it to unfold — which it does quite satisfactorily, neatly unraveling thread by thread.

Kudos to the polished cast: Plourde creates a charming if smarmy husband; Ramirez, as his wife, is totally glamorous and yet quite vulnerable; handsome Lynam certainly displays the right chemistry for her lover, and the showstopper is Bramble as the muddled yet shrewd detective.

Worth seeing, even for those who recall the film. Nothing beats a live performance.

Recommended.

Beverly Friend, Ph.D.

Member, American Critics Assn.
Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs, Fl 33065. https://stagedoorfl.org 954-344-7765 .Tickets $38-42, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, through Dec 6