Dial M for Murder

Reviewed by Nicky Jones

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This brand-new production of Frederik Knott’s 1952 play Dial M For Murder is filled with tension, fast-paced narrative and gripping moments – and it’s at The Lowry for one week only!

Dial M For Murder isn’t a straight forward murder mystery, as the audience follow the planning of the crime and see the repercussions unravel throughout the play.

The plot entails ex-tennis pro Tony Wendice (Tom Chambers) wanting to have his wealthy wife, Margot (Diana Vickers), murdered so he can get his hands on her inheritance. When he discovers her affair with Mark Halliday (Michael Salami), he comes up with the perfect plan to kill her. He blackmails an old acquaintance Captain Lesgate (Christopher Harper) into carrying out the murder, but the carefully-orchestrated set-up goes awry, and Margot stays alive. Now Wendice must frantically scheme to outwit the Inspector (also Christoper Harper) and police to avoid having his plot detected.

Lead Tom Chambers gives a sinister performance as Tony, putting the audience on edge throughout – this man is really not somebody who can be trusted. He pulls off the intensity of this character extremely well, giving extra wide smiles and long stares to those around him. His on-stage relationship with Diana Vickers (Margot) is brilliant, and she herself portrays her character delicately. Diana does a fantastic job of making her character’s two relationships believable, and her vulnerability in each is portrayed elegantly. I particularly felt for her after her murder scene, where the switch from her confident character to her being controlled and defeated down by her husband was really well played.

I really felt drawn into Margot’s relationship with Max (Michael Salami), and you could really feel the connection throughout their scenes together.

Christopher Harper did a superb job of portraying Captain Lesgate and Inspector Hubbard, and his performance of the Inspector was particularly stand out, where some welcome comedy was brought in at some tense moments.

David Woodhead’s set of Margot and Tony’s 1960’s ground floor flat is very important to this play, and it stays the same throughout the performance. Only once are you taken away from the flat, which is a brief cut away moment to Margot in her trial. You really feel like you are at home with the family from the very beginning, as they just go about their lives playing records, drinking alcohol and making phone calls.

Lizzie Powell’s lighting design is really poignant throughout, where it’s used to set the mood of the scene, the time of day and also cleverly used to show the passing of time as we move from one day to the next.

Overall this is a delightful and memorable show, and it’s brilliant to see West End talent visiting local venues! Don’t miss it if it’s coming near you.

Dial M For Murder is at The Lowry from Mon 15 – Sat 20 November tickets available here.

Crazy for You

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Starring Strictly champion Tom Chambers alongside a fabulous Gershwin brothers score, the acclaimed Watermill Theatre production of musical comedy Crazy For You arrives at Manchester’s Opera House this week as part of a 2017/18 national tour.

Privileged New Yorker Bobby Child (Tom Chambers) has been sent to close down the theatre in deepest darkest Deadrock, Nevada. Banker Bobby however harbours a not so secret desire to tread the boards himself, cue thrills, spills and laugh out loud silliness as Bobby disguises himself as Hungarian theatre impresario Bela Zangler in order to put on a show and save the theatre.

Tom Chambers shines as Bobby Child, he has the strong physical comedy skills needed for the role as well as an impressive voice and impeccable dance ability. He bursts with charisma and boundless energy and seems to be having as much fun with the role as the audience are having watching him.

Leading lady Charlotte Wakefield as Polly is perfection. Full of sass and spark her warm characterisation is a joy to watch, she literally bursts with personality. The scenes between Wakefield and Chambers are magic, both incredibly skilled dancers they work their socks off throughout the entirety of the show.

The static set is put to good use with changing backdrops and ambient lighting, allowing scenes to change from NYC to Nevada convincingly.

Despite the 1990’s reworking of the show by Ken Ludwig the characterisation and storyline does however remain a little weak, so much so that things just seem to happen with no explanation, fiancé’s swap fiancé’s while hardened New Yorkers move to the Wild West and shack up with the local saloon owner without batting an eyelid. That said the excellent performances and big hitters such as I got rhythm and They Can’t Take That Away from Me are fantastic, all are delivered with high energy and great confidence from the cast of actor musicians.

The cast work incredibly hard, dancing one minute then playing the fiddle the next, all are enormously talented. While there may be less impact from the tap numbers due to actors doubling up as musicians the skilful multitasking roles they deliver entertain adequately.

Crown pleaser Tom Chambers delights with his charming and confident take on the character while Charlotte Wakefield delivers a confident and commanding performance any leading lady would be proud of. All in all Crazy For You is a light-hearted, uplifting and all round fun show.

On at Manchester’s Opera House until Saturday 2nd Dec, tickets available here