Theatre Review: Dial M for Murder
by Suzanne Daub
No one is innocent in Dial M for Murder.
This drawing room thriller that is currently on stage at White Heron Theatre is excellent on many levels. The strong, snappy dialog is intelligent and engaging, and the talented cast delivers it well. Director Mark Shanahan’s vision pulls it all together, from his ideal casting choices to the perfect timing and spot-on blocking essential for this intricate, single-set, dialog-heavy play to succeed.
And succeed it does!
The tense plot follows retired tennis pro Tony Wendice as he connives to have his wealthy wife, Margot, murdered for her money. Tony previously discovered Margot had an affair with famous American crime writer Mark Halliday, who is visiting the couple in London, and his nefarious plan exploits Margot’s fear that her infidelity will be discovered. Anxious to keep his hands clean, Wendice blackmails an old college mate to commit the murder while he uses a boys’ night out with Halliday as his alibi. But when Margot kills the killer, Tony must improvise.
Back at White Heron Theatre for this production is Broadway and television actress Celia Keenan-Bolger, who won a Tony for her portrayal of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird and whom audiences might recognize as Mrs. Bruce in HBO’s new series The Guilded Age. She is brilliant as the naive and nervous Margot Wendice, torn between her lover, Mark, and her husband, Tony, who, as she tells Mark, has changed from his vain and inattentive ways. Keenan-Bolger radiates confusion and hurt as her not-so-reformed husband’s devilish plot unfolds.
Stage, film, and television actor Dan Domingues, returns to White Heron Theatre as the charming and ruthless Tony Wendice. He’s glorious as the deviously handsome, cold, calculating, manipulative husband: one of Hitchcock’s classic debonair villains. A woman seated behind me whispered to her companion “I KNOW that man”–I hope she meant the actor. And Domingues has mastered the perfect smirk and tones of irony for a character you love to hate.
Kavin Panmeechao plays Margot’s American paramour, a novelist whose knowledge of the mechanics and motives of murder leads him to unraveling Tony’s scheme. He’s well-cast as the devoted lover who refuses to give up, even when Margot seems doomed.
The true victim (or is he?) in the play is Captain Lesgate aka Charles Swann, the career criminal blackmailed by Tony into killing Margot. Played by the talented Mark Price, well-known on Broadway, with film and television credits as well. Price is fully believeable as the ne’er-do-well who is maneuvered into going along with Tony’s murderous plans.
Isabel Keating, another Tony-award winning actress in this star-studded play is perfect as the acerbically witty Inspector Hubbard. The gender switch from the Hitchcock version works well, and, with her perfect timing and facial expressions, she plays up the humor without overdoing it. Her character finds the key to unwinding the twists of Tony’s plot and revealing the truth of the murder.
Dial M for Murder shows keep selling out, so buy your tickets today at White- HeronTheatre.org — the show has been extended from its original run through August 16.
For this 10th Anniversary Season, in addition to their theatre productions, White Heron has teamed up with Nantucket Comedy Festival to present Comedy Club events. August 12 & 13 features comedian Jack Gallagher; August 26 & 27 Tom Cotter is on stage; and September 2 & 3 Don Gavin will keep the audience in stitches. White Heron Bar opens at 8 pm, and the show starts at 9 pm.