Friday, October 28, 2016

*The following post carries a nap warning.  Two short naps to be precise, in the first half. What can I say? I'd carelessly eaten a big meal beforehand*

Dial M For Murder. 

I had low expectations. I booked it principally because I wanted to see the theatre. (What middle-class lunacy.) I thought the show might be "child" friendly.  And I thought it would be an excellent way to spend a Saturday night.

Don't get me wrong. I didn't create the holiday purely so that I could visit the theatre. Oh ho no. But if it just so happened that our half term break was located conveniently near the temptingly titled Theatre By The Lake, I did not have the strength of mind to shun it.

And it is a gorgeous little theatre. Very modern. A great size. It seats about 300 in the proscenium arch space. It also has a studio theatre. Glass fronted. Beautiful location. The proscenium arch space has great accoustics and excellent sight lines as modern theatres usually do. Needless to say, I'm trying to work out when and how I could possibly scrabble together £15,000 to do a show there.

But that's by the by. 

Dial M For Murder is an excellent play. I was expecting a chilling but laboured Agatha Christie style romp. I got a very elegantly structured, funny, tense, excellently acted, beautifully designed tale of justice avenged. A delight.

It's a daft story. Guy decides to kill his wife. (Who happens to be having an affair but marvellously, he doesn't know that. He just wants her money.) He hires someone to do it. It doesn't quite go according to plan. The hired hand ends up dead. The wife is tried and found guilty of murder. She is sentenced to prison for life. 

It would be easy - so very easy - to do this play ironically. To play it for laughs. To make it a little bit glib and throwaway and even, heaven forfend, pantomimey. But to the great credit of director Sarah Punshon, they didn't.

They did it perfectly sincerely. Acting, mannerisms, accents, delivery - all felt entirely in keeping with the customs of the time. (For all I know about the customs of the time.) The delivery was pitch perfect. So you get sucked into actually caring about this ludicrous story.  

The set was gorgeous which helped. Beautifully designed and I know I've said that already but this was the kind of set that I used to expect from Pitlochry but haven't seen so much in recent times. It was excellently put together to make the story telling as fluent as it could be. No mean feat with people sneaking around in the half light, bursting out from behind curtains and the like. It was very well thought through. The furniture was lovely. The attention to detail was marvellous. I latched onto the sewing box before the show started as an example of the loving detail. Only to discover it was integral to the plot. But still, it was beautiful. All beautiful. 

The actors were excellent. The men were great. The husband was a proper cad. The lover sweet if apparently slightly ineffectual - until the final hour. The villain was villainous. And the Police Inspector cleverly appeared ineffectual but was not.

But Sheila was the star of the show. Laura Darrall. Sweet, simpering, enfeebled by her murderous experience, majestic in the tragedy of her unjust sentence. And all delivered in this simpering voice that easily could have strayed into dislikeable hysteria but did not. By the play's close, I was genuinely glad that - but wait, I won't give the game away. 

My only criticism - and it's so nitpicky! - is poor Sheila's beautiful jade green dress in her opening scenes appears to be ripping slightly at the seams. Fair play to it. It's withstood the best part of a season. And wouldn't take patching comfortably. But maybe it was a deliberate act to indicate that they've fallen recently on harder times...

In short, I loved it. Four stars from me. And a little place in my heart now filled up with The Theatre By The Lakes. I hope to be back. 


Post a Comment

<< Home