Liverpool Theatre News & Reviews
REVIEW - Dial M For Murder - Fast paced, Energetic and Captivating - 5 stars!!!CLICK HERE FOR YOUR DIAL M FOR MURDER TICKETS
One of our trusted reviewers, Karen Ryder, went to The Lowry, Salford on Monday to see Dial M For Murder. This powerful thriller certainly ticked all the boxes. Read our review and take advantage of our exclusive £20 offer...
I woke up as giddy as a kipper this morning in anticipation of tonight’s show - Dial M For Murder. It had finally arrived! Like many others I was due to see this show pre lockdown, but it was postponed due to that annoying thing called covid. I’d love to sound intellectually artistic and say my giddiness was down to watching a play by English playwright Frederick Knott, or the infamous film maker Alfred Hitchcock (whose film gave the manuscript the fame it deserves) but my reason is far more shallow. Tom Chambers!!! Ok so yes, he may be easy on the eye, but I am a genuine fan of his work too and as well as loving his acting in Holby as the mean and moody Sam Strachan and as Max Tyler - the brutal headteacher in Waterloo road, I have also seen him live in a couple of musicals (Top Hat and Crazy For You) not to mention Strictly Come Dancing and he has never disappointed.
This production is an exciting tour as it brings big names and insane West End talent to local theatres. The small cast (Tom Chambers as professional tennis player Tony Wendice, Diana Vickers as his wife Margot, Michael Salami as crime writer Max Halliday and Christopher Harper as Captain Lesgate and Inspector Hubbard) are incredibly in sync and work beautifully together as a team. Their relationships on stage are completely believable and convincing, ensuring you stay engaged throughout for you don’t want to miss a single nuance in the mystery that is murder.
Tony Wendice is a devilishly dark champion tennis player who basically wants to bump his wife Margot off because she is having an affair with the crime writer Max Halliday. At least that’s what he tells himself to make it seem less evil, but really he is flat broke and simply wants to get his hands on her money. So it’s less a crime of passion and more a crime of greed. However, tortured Tony is too clever to do the deed himself and so blackmails his old pal Charles Swann / Captain Lesgate (the man has his own dodgy past and many identities to boot) to do it for him. Tony has a plan, he has an alibi, so what could go wrong? Well of course, it wouldn’t be much of a story to say man has plan to execute wife and he does so with no problem, the end. Enter Inspector Hubbard who sniffs out some dodgy deeds and so the hunt for the truth begins.
This production was fast paced, energetic and captivating throughout. I haven’t seen the film so I don’t know how Tony is portrayed in it, but I was expecting a mean, thuggish, oppressive murdering profile. Oh how wrong I was. Tom Chambers played Tony as a thoroughly charming, engaging and somewhat clearly unhinged and deranged character who on the surface, it became increasingly hard to dislike – though you did fear him and his unpredictability. This made for the perfect criminal mind. He would converse about his murderous plans as if he were talking about adopting puppies, show his charismatic smile to his wife and police officer, then turn his back and have the look of the devil. His movements across the stage were almost balletic as he would leap with grace or place gloves on the sofa in a very fosse like way. All of this elegance juxtaposed hugely against the thoughts and intentions racing through his mind. It was very cleverly performed (and directed) to keep you on the edge of your seat, because what you saw with this character absolutely represented no truth to what was truly going on in his mind. I was genuinely mesmerised by his performance.
Diana Vickers (X Factor, I wish my life were a musical, Rocky Horror, The Rise & Fall Of Little Voice) gave an incredibly naturalistic performance and was entirely believable throughout – so much so that in her opening smoochy scene with Michael Salami, the 11/12 year child sat next to me started squirming in his seat with embarrassment then asked his mum “That’s her real life boyfriend right?” Diana held her own against a strong male cast and never once came across as the meek, weak female. She used her breathing to good effect to really pull us into her emotions and went from lover to being betrayed, to fearful, to attacker with the ease of a seasoned professional. Having only known her from the X Factor, I was thrilled to witness her career as an actress.
Christopher Harper (Coronation Street, Holby, Life On Mars, Strangers On A Train, Much Ado About Nothing) was a genius choice of casting for the dual role of Captain Lesgate and Inspector Hubbard. Christopher showed what an actor truly is and what we are sometimes all guilty of forgetting because he created two completely different characters right infront of our eyes. They were as individual as if two actors had played them, achieved through his brilliant skills and unique choices with posture, movement, mannerisms, accent, voice nuances and technique. It was amazing to watch him. I particularly loved his Inspector Hubbard which was played with the dry wit and annoyance of a 1970s old school police officer, with hints of Gene Hunt from Life On Mars, but far more theatre friendly language! Honestly, he was amazing and is one of the best actors I’ve ever seen live.
Michael Salami (Two Trains Running, A Night Before Christmas, Glengarry Glen Ross, Hollyoaks) as Max Halliday was very believable as the lover to Margot (again I refer back to the embarrassment of the child sat next to me). However, he was so much more than that. He was able to flit between his different relationships with the other characters with ease and conviction. He allowed his character to come alive when talking passionately about his crime novels, allowed him to show his unease when asked to be pally with his lovers husband and showed his hesitation around the Inspector, who justified his hesitation by refusing to shake his outstretched hand.
So much of the acting brilliance in this play was about the reacting. The actors never switched off or stopped for a moment when they weren’t speaking and all were always completely in the moment. These small reactions, facial expressions and nuances took this performance to the next level - these guys truly know their craft and it was an utter joy to watch. I’ll be honest, as a creative myself I can sometimes be guilty of my mind wandering during a performance as I ponder their choice or think how I can adapt what I’ve seen in my theatre classes or “Ooh that line just gave me a million off shoot ideas,” or any other of the creatives that whizz round my brain. However, I did not lose focus for even one second during Dial M For Murder. For those who know me and my mind - this is huge. I wasn’t given an option BUT to watch. It was demanded of me and so all the bubbling mind thoughts had to wait until the journey home.
The creative team deserve their mention too for you can clearly see that the slickness and tightness of this production is a team effort. Director Anthony Banks made choices about things such of movement as mentioned that helped cement the characters state of mind. He also allowed for comedic moments such as when Tony was polishing his trophy (ooh err missus) and a synchronised drinking session that must have taken hours to perfect without the actors corpsing. The set by David Woodhead was brilliant, creating a full apartment and every inch of it was relevant and used to great effect. Sound and light by Lizzie Powell and Ben & Max Ringham helped subtly move the performance along and create a timeline. It also echoed the overall feeling of the play such as the intense red flashing lights sequence in the second act.
Dial M for Murder (and yes they really do dial with the old style “stick your finger in the correct numbered hole and turn it round” phone - not a smartphone in sight. Let’s face it, “FaceTime for Murder” or “Call Siri for Murder” simply do not have the same ring to it - no pun intended) is gripping, plot twisting, charming, charismatic, unhinged and I loved it. I’m not sure what that says about my state of mind but there you go! So Dial M for “My Lord you have to watch this show!” Don’t be the one to miss out. Go! Be gone! And when you’re there, say hi to Tom for me.
WE SCORE DIAL M FOR MURDER - 10/10
The production is running until Saturday 20th November 2021. We have an exclusive £20 offer for ALL PERFORMANCES (MON - SAT) so get yourself to The Lowry to seeing this amazing drama.
CLICK HERE FOR YOUR £20 TICKET OFFER
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