Fiery Angel is the company behind the Playhouse’s own 2011 smash hit The Ladykillers, as well as an equally ridiculously successful stage version of The 39 Steps. So turning their attention to one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best known whodunnits (of sorts) continues to play to their strengths. The story of a jealous husband who attempts to plan the perfect murder of his rich wife, this production is a stylish mystery that has been thrilling audiences on a tour of the UK.
As the devious Max Wendice, Daniel Betts makes for a quintessential privileged bad guy, with a beguiling charm that understates even his most despicable acts and carries the whole show well; the rest of the characters didn’t seem quite so three dimensional and it would have added to the suspense if the audience could care for them as more than mere plot devices. The cast also includes Christopher Timothy as the authoritative Inspector Hubbard, whose rogue investigating eventually cracks the case.
For connoisseurs of the genre, Dial M for Murder – penned by screenwriter Frederick Knott before being snapped up by Hitch – is a masterful example, full of twists; nothing is as it seems. Betts’s assured performance carries the show. Mike Britton’s beautifully striking red set lets the simple motion of an uncluttered revolving stage and a transparent red curtain create an air of suspense and the high quality Mad Men style in costume and furniture makes for a suitably stylish production.