University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Dial 'M' For Murder

The Badger

ByThe Badger

Nov 28, 2009

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The story of a jealous and avaricious husband attempting to commit the perfect murder was retold in a subtle, moderately suspenseful production of the Hitchcockian classic, Dial ‘M’ for Murder. Although adequately managing to ratchet up the tension at points, the play over all proved to be distinctly underwhelming and formulaic, with little evidence of  innovation or original interpretation.

It was a clever use of set design which conveyed much of the silent, slow sense of menace and forboding that the play did manage to achieve.  The use of a swivelling stage, silently rotating as the action proceeded created a subtle sense of disorientation, whilst the deceptively simple use of a red veil like curtain, which would at times move around much as the stage did, added a sinister unease.

An unwelcomely discordant note was struck with the clumsily staged strangling scene;  accompanied by melodramatic music, slightly amateurish ‘gagging’ sound effects, and a badly choreographed and unconvincing physical struggle between   Sheila Wendice (Aislin McGuckin) and the would-be murderer Captain Lesgate (Daniel Hill), I disliked this departure from the effectively disconcerting stillness of the production; rather than making me jump it  made me laugh a little at how silly it was.

The actors on the whole were competent , with distinguishing turns from Richard Lintern as Tony Wendice and  Des McAleer as Inspector Hubbard. One of the more chilling moments of the play occurred when Wendice, after  mistakenly thinking that he had evaded the detective’s suspicion , stood alone on the stage and hugged himself in delight, emitting the creepiest of giggles.

Despite some striking moments however, this revival of Dial ‘M’ for Murder seemed unoriginal and unexciting, more like an imitation of the cinematic version than anything else.

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