Dial M for Murder Review - What's a Cell Phone?

For a nostalgic, camp, and fun evening, you can’t miss with DIAL M FOR MURDER. Since its first performance on BBC in 1952 - quickly followed by live performances on London and New York stages in the same year - DIAL M FOR MURDER has wowed audiences. It didn’t hurt a bit that Alfred Hitchcock saw the potential and directed a film of the same name in 1954. Starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, and Robert Cummings, this thriller was filmed in that new-fangled process called 3D, even though it was almost always projected for audiences in the U.S. and abroad in 2D.

Michael Robb and Carrie Schroeder - Photo by Doug Engalla

British playwright Frederick Knott must have done something right in this memorable mystery thriller – so very English in its understated, tongue-in-cheek manner. And let’s not forget the British inspector’s masterful summary at the end of the story. As good luck would have it, the Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre has revived this clever show under the direction of talented Bruce Kimmel.

Adam Jonas Segaller and Michael Robb - Photo by Doug Engalla

We’re back in 1954 in the affluent London flat of wealthy socialite Margot (Carrie Schroeder) and her “tennis bum” husband, Tony Wendice (Adam Jonas Segaller). But all hasn’t been paradise in the marriage, and Margot has strayed with American mystery writer Max Halliday (Justin Waggle). However, Tony isn’t ready to give up on the “goose that laid the golden egg” and return to his dull – and financially challenged – life before Margot. Enter C. A. Swann (Michael Robb), Tony’s old school buddy who has become involved with the seamier side of small-time criminal life. Perhaps Swann could be encouraged to get rid of Margot – permanently – as a way to pay off a little blackmail scheme instigated by Tony?

Justin Waggle and Carrie Schroeder - Photo by Doug Engalla

In true mystery-thriller fashion, each little step creates the next as the plot twists and turns and comes to life. But the audiences of 2017 are a bit different from the audiences of the 1950’s. They are a far more sophisticated lot courtesy of “Law and Order” and “CSI.” Even as the play verges on corny, the chuckles take over. It turns out to be great fun to peak at the innocent mentality of the naïve 50’s set seen through the lens of a twenty-first century microscope.

Justin Waggle, Carrie Schroeder, and Adam Jonas Segaller - Photo by Doug Engalla

J. Kent Inasy’s lighting and set design perfectly recreate the 50’s ambiance, with the able assistance of Angela M. Eads’ costumes and Steve Shaw’s sound. With almost eerie accuracy, the audience is transported over 60 years into the past. The talented cast competently creates characters who didn’t know much about crime, evidence, and devious plots – but are doomed to learn.

Doug Haverty and Carrie Schroeder - Photo by Doug Engalla

DIAL M FOR MURDER runs through August 13, 2017, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Lonny Chapman Theatre is located at 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. Tickets are $25 with discounts for seniors, students, and groups. For information and reservations, call 818-763-5990 or go online.

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