Last night was opening night for ‘Dial M for Murder’ at Norwich Theatre Royal. Walking into the auditorium, I knew nothing about the plot of the play. I vaguely knew it was about a plot to kill someone, but I deliberately didn’t research the play prior the seeing it as I wanted to experience the shock, excitement and horror as a first-time viewer.
The play had a small cast of four actors. Tom Chambers played to the character of Tony Wendice, an ex-professional Tennis player turned businessman. His wife, Margot Wendice was played by Sally Bretton – a familiar face from one of my favourite sitcoms of Green Wing. I have to commend Christopher Harper for playing both the roles of Captain Lesgate and Inspector Hubbard, due to the clever use of props, costume and Harper’s first-class acting he was virtually unrecognisable. Finally, Max Halliday was played by Michael Salami. The cast was cleverly selected, providing comedy and an excellent performance simultaneously.
After the lights were darkened upon the set of the Wendice’s small, ground floor flat, I was full of intrigue at the small set. However, all of the plays that I have seen which use only one room for the entire play have always utilised the space incredibly effectively. Luckily, ‘Dial M for Murder’ was no different.
The play was incredibly slow to start, so much so that I thought the performances by Salami and Bretton were quite forced and stagnant. However, as soon as Chambers entered the stage, the atmosphere within the theatre became more relaxed as the audience shared laughs with the character of Tony Wendice, making the entire auditorium watch the performance with ease.
Tom Chambers did exceptionally well in his portrayal of Tony Wendice. Unfortunately, his impeccable performance outshone Bretton and Salami leaving Chambers to steal the show. Harper also surprised me in his portrayal of Inspector Hubbard, allowing the audience to laugh and enjoy the play further as he brought a layer of comedy to his performance.
The play picked up just before the interval, when Lesgate was murdered with a pair of scissors. My mind became full of thoughts to how the plot would progress, would Tony cover the murder up, or would he admit his plan to the police? Once we sat down for the second act, it appeared all of the audience were on the edge of their seats, keen for our questions to be addressed. The second act was marvellous, every detail was made clear to the audience and the dialogue was exceptionally written. The director Anthony Banks presented the narrative magically on stage, all of the actors’ movements were swift and obviously very well-rehearsed.
On the whole, ‘Dial M for Murder’ was thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining to see and Chamber’s performance is a great example of how set, stage and actor can work together in harmony to make an exceptional play.