Sunday, October 2

Dial M for Murder – Sheffield Lyceum

Dial M for Murder is billed as ‘The Genre Defining Thriller of All Time’. The play originally written by Frederick Knott in the 1950’s and made famous by Alfred Hitchcock in the 1954 film with Grace Kelly and Ray Millard. The play was first performed in 1952 and has since become a nationally, regular repertory production.

This new production is eventually on tour after being on hold during the Covid times of 2020, the cast of 4 familiar faces from stage and television deliver a wordy, yet clever crime thriller littered with comedic moments to add just the required juxtaposition to this detective thriller. The First Act is a mammoth task of dialogue but is handled well, it is the Second Act that this play grips the audience.  Thanks to Director Anthony Banks there are some surprising moments of light relief, although I am not entirely convinced by the use of clunky dance moves. I can only assume these are in homage to the actor’s Strictly Come Dancing fame, a little misplaced?

The set is impressive, designed by David Woodhead, its minute detail is a real winner, from soda syphons to racks of LP’s, we enter the setting to the 1960’s soundtrack of classics from The Beatles, The Zombies and The Kinks, which are used to great effect during the play. The drama takes place in one room of a comfortably stylish 1960’s London flat, where we are plunged head first into the extra marital affair of Socialite Margot Wendice – played by Diana Vickers of X Factor and later West End Little voice fame and working-class crime fiction writer Max (Michael Salami of Hollyoaks).

Enter Tom Chambers (Top Hat, Strictly Come Dancing) as the manipulative, fortune hunting and imminently ‘creepy’ ex-tennis pro. husband Tony Wendice and the story unfurls. Add to the mixture the shady old school chum Swann, with a dubious past and a Northern Inspector Hubbard with a dogged charm, both played by Coronation Street’s Christopher Harper and for two hours we question – Is there such a thing as a perfect crime?  As Tony becomes more entwine in a web of his own making, keep your eye on the Latch keys, the drama hinges on these.

The four actors are admirably strong. Vicker’s attacks the role of Margot with gusto yet captures the frailty of the character. Chamber’s is debonair and deliciously devious with a hint of manic menace. Salami is perfect in role and has a wonderful mix of working-class reality and slightly slimy lover. Harper as Swann is convincing, but it is in the second act in the role of Inspector Hubbard he steals the show, whilst perfectly penned; he brings a very endearing character to life. His character depiction is deserved of a TV series in its own right! Reminiscent of Tv’s Columbo with his …. ‘Just one more thing….’ lines.

Dial M for Murder is at the Sheffield Lyceum until 23rd October 2021 and well worth a visit to see Inspector Hubbard! A wonderfully intricate production of a mind boggling and attention grabbing detective thriller that sets the bar high.

Reviewer: Tracey Bell

Reviewed: 19th October 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★