Fringe Box



Stage Dragon: Dial M For Murder At The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 5 Feb, 2020
Updated on: 5 Feb, 2020

By Ferenc Hepp

Simon Friend Entertainment stop off in Guildford at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in the early stages of their tour of the classic crime mystery, Dial M for Murder, by Frederick Knott.

Directed by Anthony Banks, it is arguably better known as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock but the play premiered on the BBC in 1952 and made its West End debut in June that year, with a Broadway production later on in the same year.

Dial M for Murder runs until Saturday, February 8, at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford.

We are in London in 1963, in the garden flat of Tony and Marcot Wendice. Tony is an ex professional tennis player and Marcot is a wealthy socialite who had an affair with Max Halliday.

Upon discovering this by finding a note in Marcot’s handbag, Tony attempts to plot her murder with the aid of Captain Lescate one night when Marcot is due to be home alone.

However, things do not quite go to plan and with the aid of Inspector Hubbard and a lot of talk about keys and ways into the flat, the plot unravels, leaving a very different outcome to the original murder plan.

The set is quite elaborate and realistic with a lot of attention to detail, thanks to the designer David Woodhead.

The direction by Anthony Banks is naturalistic and well executed, however, it does feel that the script is crying out for much more dramatic tension and special effects.

The plot is clearly communicated by this experienced cast but it needs something more than the words being spoken eloquently.

Guildford School of Acting trained Tom Chambers (Crazy For You and Top Hat) and Sally Bretton (An Ideal Husband and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf) portray Tony and Marcot Wendice and do a good job with the script and direction they have to work with.

However, there is a certain lack of tension which should be apparent for a couple where one has been discovered to have had an affair and the other planning a murder.

Michael Salami as Max Halliday does demonstrate versatility and a good stage presence along with his fellow actors, but there is some connection lacking between him and Bretton in order to make the affair seem more apparent.

Christopher Harper portrays both Captain Lescate and Inspector Hubbard, and he does an excellent job of both, with some well needed elements of humour as a result of his mannerisms as the Inspector attempting to work out the happening of the fateful evening.

I have been assured that the film version is very much worth seeing. However, this stage version does lack certain elements which should maintain our attention and falls down a proverbial crack between thriller, murder mystery and comedy but not quite achieving the full potential of any of those.

On the other hand, it was nice to see a full auditorium on opening night and it was generally well received when the cast were taking their bows so however much it did not grab my attention, it may well grab yours.

, and tickets are available via or by calling the box office on 01483 440000.

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