"Dial M for Murder" comes from a bygone era - the early
Fifties, when many movies were in filmed in black and white, with
stories that developed at a leisurely pace compared with today's
This play opens in a tony London residence, with characters
dressed formally for the theater, enjoying cocktails and
cigarettes. The central character is a retired tennis star, married
to an admirer who is comfortably well off -- and he very much
appreciates the lifestyle.
"You'll find it make such a difference to have some money in
But beneath the glittering facade, the wife is having an
affair. Her husband has figured this out, and is plotting to have
her murdered. And he'll inherit her wealth.
"Investments, mostly, a little too easy to get out. And that
was dangerous, as they'd be bound to suspect me. I'd need an alibi.
A very good one. Then I saw you."
The enjoyment, in this Sacramento Theater Company production,
comes from Matt K. Miller's charmingly wicked performance as the
tennis star. With an icy twinkle in his eyes, he carefully plans
his wife's demise, detail by intricate detail - smiling, but
diabolically serious.Then, as the plan goes awry, it turns into a
battle of wits, as an inspector -- played with droll humor by the
resourceful Gary Wright -- begins to figure things out.
As I said, this show doesn't hurry. There's a gradual set-up,
as we're introduced to the characters and their circumstances,
followed by the heated moment of the crime itself, and then the
aftermath -- three acts, two intermissions. And this production is
not entirely successful -- several supporting performances are flat
and two-dimensional. But director Greg Alexander creates a sense of
growing momentum that pays off in the end. Those who enjoy an
old-school thriller, set in an era of rotary phones and wooden
tennis rackets, will relish this evening of retro