Dial M for Murder – Review by Marlene S. Gaylinn

Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher from the original, British play by Fredrick Knott, “Dial M for Murder” has undergone many transitions. It appeared on Broadway in 1952. In 1954 it was made into a film featuring Grace Kelly and Ray Milland.

Now that the work has passed into eminent domain it has become an unusual comedy. At Westport Country Playhouse (WCP) under the direction of Artistic Director, Mark Lamos, this entertaining play starts with a prologue. Jealous husband, “Tony,” played by Patrick Andrews appears to be visualizing the planned murder of his wealthy wife, “Margo” (Kate Abbruzzese). However, when the curtain rises again, we are shown that although there was the planned, house intruder, the murder didn’t turn out as the husband expected.

The play which takes place entirely in the “drawing room,” it has become an English-style “Comedy of Manners,” complete with British accents. In other words, the plot unravels as the characters talk to each other while portraying how this terrifying incident came to be and who was responsible. The supporting actors who kept the Opening Night audience in suspense are: Krystel Lucas as “Maxine” (Margo’s Black Lover), Kate Burton is “Inspector Hubbard” and Denver Milord plays “Lesgate” (The house intruder and the only one who doesn’t talk).

What’s new, is the updated time period and inclusion of homosexuality. What’s old, is that the three main characters are portrayed as being heavy chain smokers – possibly otherwise, these “chain talkers” might not know what to do with their hands.

The haunting sound design by Kate Marvin, kept the audience in suspense despite its intermittent laughter. Lavish, fashionable ensembles worn by tall and curvy Krystel Lucas, were designed by Fabian Fidel Aguilar. Alexander Dodge is responsible for the more modern, wall to wall window treatments and spacious, living room set.

WCP may be cutting its Summer Season short due to budge restrictions and appealing for donations. This may also be the last play of the season directed by Mark Lamos, who gave notice of retiring on January, 2024.