Theatre Review: Dial M for Murder

By Ken Powell

murderMURDER was a good choice for the patrons of the theatre this season.

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.

Dial M for Murder runs until Wednesday 2 November and tickets are available at the venue’s box office.