Theatre review: Dial M For Murder, King’s Theatre

Christopher Timoth as Inspector Hubbard. Picture: comp
Christopher Timoth as Inspector Hubbard. Picture: comp
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THE simplest of sets, combined with a talented cast, can produce an outstanding theatrical experience – if it has the right script. And this production gets the balance exactly right.

* * * * *

One room, with little in the way of furniture, on a slowly revolving stage walled in by translucent scarlet curtains is pretty much all that is provided in the way of setting. Clever though it is, it never detracts from an intricately engineered script.

Originally produced on television before being taken to the stage, and then brought to the big screen by Alfred Hitchcock, it’s a tale that many know well.

This gripping Frederick Knott thriller tells the story of Tony Wendice (Daniel Betts) who discovers wife Sheila (Kelly Hotten) is having an affair. Over the following year he plots every detail of her murder. Leaving nothing to chance, his brilliant plan to rid himself of his wife seems foolproof. Unfortunately, things go wrong on the most unexpected turn of events.

Enter Inspector Hubbard, wonderfully played by Christopher Timothy, left, who closes in on the murderer with a relentless tenacity.

The joy of this production is watching the devilish Wendice as he tries to manipulate those around him, changing his tack and strategy to meet unravelling events and the emerging evidence.

Betts is superb as the scheming killer, and Hotten is both sensual and vulnerable, perfectly portraying a life spinning out of control.

Philip Cairns, who plays Max Halliday, fits in well, though his lines are often delivered in a strangely stilted style, as though being read. Even so, his character complements the rest of the cast.

But it’s Timothy who carries the story. He is utterly believable as Inspector Hubbard, cleverly building up the case, recognising that the killer’s case can be toppled by one key piece of evidence. Add to all this Mic Pool’s haunting soundscape, and you have a piece of theatre that is as sinister as it is captivating.

• Run ends Saturday