Theatre review: Dial M for Murder, The Lowry Theatre, Salford

Tom Chambers drinking a whisky, brooding look out of a window, Dial M for Murder

Tom Chambers plays Margot's murderous husband - Credit: matthewcawrey.com

Diana Vickers and Tom Chambers deliver a polished performance in this tense stage play.

The premise is simple: get away with murder. Tony Wendice (Tom Chambers) has married Margot (Diana Vickers) for her money, but doesn’t appreciate being cuckolded. Divorce is not an option, as it would leave him penniless, so he turns to the obvious solution, her death. But how to do it while ensuring nobody can point the finger at him? A clever, convoluted plot ensues, with a reluctant assassin, a desperate lover, a terrified wife and a clever detective. 

I love a good thriller, and when you know it’s one chosen by Alfred Hitchcock himself, taken from stage to film in his 1954 movie, you can expect good things. We weren’t to be disappointed. 

Diana Vickers as Margot, in Dial M for Murder

Diana's character, Margot, feels increasingly fearful as the play progresses - Credit: matt@matthewcawrey.com

To be fair, with experienced actors such as Diana Vickers and Tom Chambers in the lead roles of adulterous wife Margot and her murderous husband Tony Wendice, disappointment was unlikely, but then even the best of actors can muck it up. Diana played light and frivolous, slightly guilt-ridden, Margot well, and we watch as she flips to first stunned victim of attempted murder to next horrifed accused of murder.  

At first I struggled a little with Chambers’ approach to Tony, but very quickly his strung-out, living through gritted teeth, ‘all-is-well, can’t-you-tell?’ persona was perfect for the stage. He was both stylish and sinister, delivering moments of lightness and humour amid the planning of an murder. 

Christopher Harper (Coronation Street, Strangers on a Train) performs in the dual roles of Captain Lesgate and Inspector Hubbard and unless you had read the programme you wouldn’t know. His Captain was louche and amused, until Tony revealed the plan, when he revealed his true character, and his Inspector Hubbard was a joy to witness; a sort of Lancashire Columbo, with perfectly timed delivery. 

Diana Vickers as Margot and Tom Chambers as Tony Wendice, kissing, in Dial M for Murder

A loving husband, with murderous intent - Credit: matthewcawrey.com

Michael Salami (Hollyoaks) as Max Halliday, Margot’s lover, is clearly a man in love – certainly more so than his lady – and grows increasingly frantic as the story unfolds. His diction was a little trippy-uppy at times, a little rushed, but he took his character’s love for Margot as far as it could go, leaving the audience in no doubt she had a saviour, if only he could find a way. 

Most Read

This is a single set show, with all the action taking place in the Wendice’s sitting room. Clever lighting shows the passage of time, along with fast-paced scenes showing the day’s unfolding, raising the tension as we wait for Tony’s plan to play out.  

Diana Vickers head and shoulders photo, yellow dress

Diana Vickers, as Margot, in Dial M for Murder - Credit: matthewcawrey.com

The use of discordant music and flashing light I was less enamoured with; it’s really not necessary, and certainly for so long. 

Overall this is a great play, with a great cast, that will leave you feeling like you have had a great night out – though hopefully not, as I had to, explaining the ending to your husband. 

Dial M for Murder plays at The Lowry till Saturday November 20, 2021, tickets at: thelowry.com/whats-on/dial-m-for-murder-2021