It’s a sad day indeed when a man marries a beautiful socialite for her money. Sadder still when he decides to murder her so he doesn’t have to share it.
But, if a man learns his wife has been unfaithful…well, that does rather justify the foul act. Doesn’t it?
This is the premise of the Frederick Knott play Dial M for Murder now onstage at Lakewood Theatre Company‘s Headlee Mainstage, directed by David Sikking. The play premiered in 1952 as a BBC television program, and was made famous when Alfred Hitchcock directed the film in 1954 (screenplay also by Knott).
Tennis pro Tony Wendice (Jacob Lee Smith) believes his posh life with wife Margot (Clara-Liis Hillier) is threatened when he learns she is having an affair with American television writer Max Halliday (Heath Koerschgen). So he decides to get rid of her. Permanently. Too properly English to do the deed himself, he tricks an old college friend–a man down on his luck and into small-time crime–Captain Lesgate (Tom Mounsey) into doing the deed for him.
It will be easy, Tony assures Lesgate, and as hit man, Lesgate will be well paid. But, of course, it’s not easy, and Tony finds himself with a huge cover-up on his hands. Tony proves an agile liar, and it looks as if he may get away with it. And then Chief Inspector Hubbard (Don Alder) makes his entrance and the game is on.
This delicious psychological thriller is beautifully staged and performed, with sumptuous scenic design by John Gerth and gorgeous mid-century costumes designed by Grace O’Malley. The play itself is fast-moving and filled with clever lines and plot twists. (The film, starring Grace Kelly and Ray Milland, is a fun step back in time as well.)
Dial M for Murder runs through February 10 at Lakewood Theatre Company, and is suitable for playgoers 10 years and older.