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Dial M for Murder, Theatre Royal review: Holby City star remedies clunky script

PUBLISHED: 14:15 22 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:31 22 January 2020

Tom Chambers in Dial M for Murder Credit: Manuel Harlan

Tom Chambers in Dial M for Murder Credit: Manuel Harlan

photo: Manuel Harlan

Dial M for Murder began its run at Norwich Theatre Royal on Tuesday night and although it promises "a masterclass in suspense" there are still a few lessons to learn.

Tom Chambers and Sally Bretton in Dial M for Murder Credit: Manuel HarlanTom Chambers and Sally Bretton in Dial M for Murder Credit: Manuel Harlan

The latest adaptation is directed by Anthony Banks and is based on Frederick Knott's 1952 thriller stage show, which was made famous by Alfred Hitchock's 1954 film.

This time around it is set in the 60s, which allows for upbeat music and vibrant outfits giving a welcome pop of colour on the stage.

The cast is led by Tom Chambers, best known for playing lothario Sam Strachan in medical drama Holby City, as lead Tony Wendice and he plays opposite Not Going Out star Sally Breton as his wife Margot.

The play is all set in their living room and follows former professional tennis player Tony, who discovered "exactly a year ago" that his wife had been having a secret affair with American crime fiction writer Max Halliday (Michael Salami).

Dial M for Murder Credit: Manuel HarlanDial M for Murder Credit: Manuel Harlan

READ MORE: Tom Chambers on Holby highlights and cheating death as new show comes to Norwich

However, Margot doesn't know that Tony knows and for the last year he has been secretly plotting the perfect murder, but as his plans come into action, with the help of school friend and small-time criminal Captain Lesgate (Christopher Harper), things start to go wrong.

Tom Chambers is wonderfully wicked as Tony, but easily transitions and presents a charming facade to his cheating wife and her lover, who he has befriended.

Sally played her part as the damsel in distress well, but I would have liked her dialogue to have been a bit meatier so she could have shown the character's feisty side.

Christopher Harper in Dial M for Murder Credit: Manuel HarlanChristopher Harper in Dial M for Murder Credit: Manuel Harlan

As the set was the same throughout, albeit with very good lighting and effects that altered the space, it meant that in the first half, which was all about them putting Tony's plan into action, it got a little tedious and you just wanted them to get on with it.

READ MORE: 7 West End shows coming to Norwich in 2020

Fortunately, it picked up pace in the second half and Christopher Harper, who had a dual role in the play, as the inspector investigating the incident was quick-witted and there were plenty of laughs from the audience as he unravelled Tony's deceit and the tennis star tried to deflect it.

Despite a creaky start, a solid second half, that delivered plenty of tension, and a talented cast made it an enjoyable watch overall.

Tom Chambers in Dial M for Murder Credit: Manuel HarlanTom Chambers in Dial M for Murder Credit: Manuel Harlan

Dial M for Murder runs until Saturday, priced from £10 to £33.50, and tickets can be purchased at theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

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