Dial M for Murder

Dial M for Murder
By Frederick Knott. Pymble Players (NSW). July 25 – August 11, 2018.

Pymble Players’ production of the well- known classic thriller Dial M for Murder was an intriguing and highly entertaining afternoon at the theatre.

Confessing I have never seen the Hitchcock directed movie from 1954 or any version of the play, I had no preconceived thoughts on this piece. Reading director Joy Sweeney’s notes in the programme I was a bit concerned to read that it had one of the most complicated plots to hit the stage.

I didn’t find this the case at all and actually found it quite easy to follow, through the performances by the five actors, while the themes of Love, Deceit and Infidelity were very heightened throughout.

The leading man Tony Wendice (Brendan Estridge) is a retired pro Tennis player, who has married Margot (Karen Pattinson) for money. He discovers she has been having an affair with an American friend of hers, Max (Dan Ferris), and plans to have her killed, bribing an old university friend Lesgate (David Allsopp) to do the deed. Things don’t go to plan on the night of the planned killing and a new plot enfolds. A smart Inspector of Police (Tom Sweeney) is brought into the action after Margot calls the police and the backtracking of Tony’s spoiled plan is played out.

Joy Sweeney has delivered a tightly blocked show on the small stage at Pymble and dressed it brilliantly, making you feel like you were in England in the 50’s. The lighting, designed by Graham Boswell, was effective to set the mood of scenes and overall tone of the show.

The actors all played their roles perfectly. Estridge oozed charm with every moment onstage. He was brilliant when fumbling around trying to cover his tracks when the Police get involved. Karen Pattinson looked and acted the housewife role down to a T and her chemistry with Dan Ferris as her lover felt very genuine. Tom Sweeney was impressive as the Inspector and was quite comical at times with his spitfire questioning of Margot and Tony; you could tell the Inspector had something up his sleeve, but you just couldn’t tell what until the final lines. David Allsopp played the smallish role of the mystery man Lesgate convincingly and never overplayed the attack scene.

All the technical elements of the show worked well except for a loud thunder clap that was way too loud for the small hall. The classic tale of suspense still is just as exciting and entertaining as I’m sure it was when first produced.

A polished production of a classic thriller.

James Russell

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