Dial M for Murder – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Move over, Alfred Hitchcock, there’s a new playwright in town who has made interesting and critical changes to the original mystery you directed in 1954: “Dial M For Murder.” First penned by English playwright Frederick Knott, now last year Jeffrey Hatcher secured the approval of the Knott estate to make changes to the plot. Max Holiday has now morphed into Maxine Hadley, creating a lesbian relationship with Margot, a wealthy socialite married to Tony Wendice.

The Westport Country Playhouse is stirring up a stage thriller, an edge-of-your-seat game of tricks and twists, until Sunday, July 30 as Mark Lamos directs this, his farewell production at the Playhouse. What do you get when a jealous husband discovers his wealthy wife is having an affair and decides it is more convenient to have her murdered than to simply divorce her. He will then, with sincere heartbreak, have to find millions of reasons to suffer and survive his loss.

Patrick Andrews’ Tony is calculating and the epitome of greed as he plots the best way to rid his life of Kate Abbruzzese’s Margot. As a failed novelist, it is increasingly irksome that now, as a publicist, he must spread encouraging words and schedule events to promote a new writer, his wife’s paramour, Krystel Lucas’ Maxine Hadley. That fact just adds a tantalizing pleasure to the dastardly deed. To help him commit the crime, he hires an old and not so savory school chum, a felon, Denver Milord’s Lesgate, who quickly agrees to take up the plot and strangle Margot, while Tony is interviewing Maxine on the radio. What better way to establish an iron clad alibi?

Of course, the perfect murder does not go exactly as planned. Thanks to the evidence and the keen work of Inspector Hubbard, a no nonsense Kate Burton, the mystery runs off in complicated and unexpected directions. Will the devious and methodical Tony succeed in eliminating his tiredsome wife from his life?

For tickets ($45-75), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport at 203-227-4177 or online at ticketswestportplayhouse.org. Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. The Playhouse needs to raise $2,000,000 by the end of July. Please help save this historic landmark and send a donation. Free theatre tours, 90 minutes each, are offered August 5 and 7, visit westportplayhouse.org/whats-on.

Watch how a stolen letter, a blackmailer, a successful author, a timely telephone call, a nylon stocking and a pair of scissors could all be “the keys” to solving this crime of passion.