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Dial M for Murder

by on 11 October 2017

A Classic of its Time.

Dial M for Murder

by Frederick Knott

OHADS at Hampton Hill Theatre until 14th October

 Review by Eleanor Marsh

 Having recently seen the professional tour of Frederick Knott’s Wait until Dark, with which I was distinctly underwhelmed, it was with some trepidation that I anticipated OHADS’ Dial M for Murder by the same author (this week at Hampton Hill Playhouse).  This fear was compounded by a Sunday afternoon viewing of the Hitchcock movie of Dial M for Murder , which, despite the presence of Grace Kelly and Ray Milland, even Hitchcock himself did not rate as one of his best.    I needn’t have worried.  Where the professionals tried to be far too clever and tricksy, hamming up the tension until the play bordered on farce and quite frankly confusing the audience, OHADS, under the direction of Asha Gill, opted for a more traditional approach.  This style was pitch perfect for what is a classic of its time.

From the moment one steps into the theatre disbelief is   – as it should be – suspended;  Junis Olmscheid’s magnificent set takes the breath away, both in terms of scale and attention to period detail, from the tennis rackets on the wall and display of sporting trophies to the drinks decanters.  Costume and lighting design and some very atmospheric piano music all add to the period feel and combine to build up the tension of this classic thriller in all the right places.  There were, however some pretty long scene changes where nothing much was changed and perhaps an extra member of stage crew would have speeded these changes – and therefore the action – up a little.  No spoilers in this review, but there is also a particular sound effect in the first half that nearly served to undo all the good work being done elsewhere and resulted in  some definite giggles from the audience where there should have been gasps;  a lesson in “less is more” perhaps.

Dial M 2

There is certainly capacity for boredom to creep in to this play for a modern day audience whose attention span may not be quite the same as that of its mid-20th Century counterpart, especially in the first act, which is predominantly a scene-setting duologue.   Terry Bedell as Tony Wendice and Neelaksh Sadhoo as the unfortunate Captain Lesgate succeeded in keeping the audience engaged and are to be commended for their storytelling skills.  This kind of exposition is rare in modern theatre but it does force the audience into concentrating and also covers up any plot holes that we might otherwise ponder.

 

As Sheila Wendice, Dionne King was alternately glacially sophisticated and desperately distraught, never going over the top in her portrayal of a basically decent woman caught in a love triangle.  The love triangle itself however was never totally believable, with little chemistry between Sheila and Max Halliday the lover fresh from the US.  In fact Matt Ludbrook’s Max seemed to have a much better relationship with husband than wife and had I not known the outcome in advance I could have imagined quite a different end to the play!    Every thriller needs its detective and in this case Maida Vale Police Station’s Inspector Hubbard was brought to us with aplomb by Daniel Wain.  Wain channelled a tidier version of Peter Falk and it did cross my mind that perhaps this could be where the Columbo character originated, thus possibly proving the theory that there are no new ideas….

All in all this was a great evening out.   OHADS have produced a highly entertaining play that is well worth seeing.

Eleanor Marsh

October 2017

Photography by Adam Sutter and Tom Shore

From → Drama, Reviews

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