Theatre Review – Dial M for Murder by Frederick Knott

 

Peter Rylands (Inspector Hubbard). Photo by Keith Pattison.

Peter Rylands (Inspector Hubbard). Photo by Keith Pattison.

By Ken Powell

Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake (TBTL) decided to have a classic murder mystery as one of this season’s six productions and Dial M for Murder was a good choice, I have to say.

Although the play premiered in the same year in which it is set – 1952 – it has aged well and continues to enjoy success today. Frederick Knott may not have written much in his lifetime (three plays in total) but this first of his – which focuses on the ‘perfect murder’ which goes very wrong for architect of the dastardly deed – is deservedly famous.

In fact, if you have budding amateur sleuths in your family who are old enough to enjoy a good play, Dial M for Murder is an excellent choice. There’s no language, nor sex and the ‘murder’ itself is believable and dramatic but free of gore. It’s perfect for a first introduction to this whole genre.

Not that this means adults won’t enjoy it. I had to stifle a giggle during the opening of the second act as I heard gasps of shock elicited from the adults sat behind me. To say the ladies were ‘really getting into it’ would be an understatement. For me, I enjoyed it even though distracted by hints of one of my favourite TV detectives – Frank Columbo. I’m sure this play was a direct influence, not least being that this isn’t so much a ‘whodunit’ as a ‘howcatchem’ as the Columbo series of TV films is often described.

The TBTL actors do a good job with Thomas Richardson playing the evil Tony Wendice particularly convincingly and Peter Rylands making a great Inspector Hubbard. Perhaps most important though was the impressive work done by the sound and lighting crews (directed by Maura Guthrie and Nick Beadle respectively). There was a large number of cues which needed to be spot on throughout the play and the team managed every single one to perfection; their work was appreciated by both audience and cast alike.

All in all, a great little murder mystery which was entertaining and gripping as we all awaited the gradual undoing of the bad guy. We were not disappointed at the end.

 From L to R Robert Vernon (Captain Lesgate), Laura Darrall (Sheila Wendice). Photo by Keith Pattison.


From L to R Robert Vernon (Captain Lesgate), Laura Darrall (Sheila Wendice). Photo by Keith Pattison.

Dial M for Murder runs until Wednesday 2 November and tickets are available at www.theatrebythelake.com or at the box office (017687 74411)