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Classic thriller Dial M for Murder comes to the Orchard Theatre

PUBLISHED: 14:12 17 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:12 17 January 2020

Tom Chambers and Sally Bretton star in Dial M for Murder. Picture: Manuel Harlan

Tom Chambers and Sally Bretton star in Dial M for Murder. Picture: Manuel Harlan

photo: Manuel Harlan

The perfect crime? Can it be done? Can it be done with murder?

A new stage verson of the thriller comes to the Orchard Theatre, Dartford. Picture: Manuel HarlanA new stage verson of the thriller comes to the Orchard Theatre, Dartford. Picture: Manuel Harlan

Classic thriller Dial M for Murder comes to in Dartford next week.

It is a new Anthony Banks-directed production of the iconic genre-defining thriller based on Frederick Knott's stage and screen play, made world-famous by Hitchcock's 1954 film.

Strictly Come Dancing's 2008 champion Tom Chambers stars as the charismatic and manipulative Tony Wendice, a jaded ex-tennis pro who has given it all up for his wife Margot, played by Sally Bretton, who stars as Lucy in TV sitcom Not Going Out.

And the plot line? For those who don't know, Tony discovers Margot has been unfaithful and his mind turns to revenge and the pursuit of the perfect crime.

Christopher Harper (Coronation Street, Strangers on a Train) performs in the dual roles of Captain Lesgate and Inspector Hubbard with Michael Salami (Shane Sweeney in Hollyoaks) as Max Halliday, Margot's lover.

Anthony said: "It's the opposite of a whodunnit because we know who's gonna do it from the beginning by blackmailing a pal to do the dirty deed."

He described Wendice as "the ultimate charmer whose actions are all in view in all their beautiful ugliness from the beginning".

The director's previous credits include Gaslight and Strangers on a Train, and he said: "They really are rare, these plays, because what you usually get is political history or socio-economic observation or your sort-of standard whodunnit. This plays takes elements from all of those and combines them in a unique way.

"It's about right and wrong and it's a bit like Macbeth in that this guy has a sniff of something that might be possible and two hours later he's become a complete sociopath. It's about tumbling into the darkest place you could possibly imagine."

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Written in the 1950s, the play doesn't state a specific time frame so the director has decided to root his production in 1963.

He said: "It feels contemporary because furniture shops now are full of Sputnik lamps with balls shooting out of them, L-shaped sofas and 60s-style patterns on curtains and upholstery, plus suits and dresses have a very 60s cut."

And he notes how it deals with very contemporary themes: The North-South divide, imbalances between men and women and disparities between haves and have-nots, with one character remarking "People with capital don't realise how lucky they are".

Leading man Tom Chambers said: "We're trying not to go down the obvious cad route. Our take on Tony is as a friendly, warm person who is caring and honest - like a politician might seem on the surface - but behind the scenes he's working a whole load of stuff out."

The actor thinks setting the story in the 60s is an apt one. "It makes it a bit more dynamic and sexy and the dialogue is so modern. It's timeless in that respect."

Sally hadn't done theatre for a decade before playing Lady Chiltern in the 2018 revival of An Ideal Husband. The actress had been busy raising a family and appearing on TV in the likes of Lewis and playing recurring roles in Not Going Out and Death in Paradise. She said: "Then I got back on stage and it was like 'Oh yes!' It's why most people go into acting. I love the rehearsal process and working as a team."

She sums up Margot as feeling lonely and unseen by Tony, then she meets writer Max.

"And she feels seen for the first time, but because of social constraints she has to try and make the best of a bad job."

Sally sees parallels between Margot's time and today. "It was a more male-dominated world back then but the curtain has been lifted on how male-dominated it still is."

Dial M for Murder is at The Orchard Theatre between January 27 and February 1. Tickets are available from the box office on 01322 220000 or orchardtheatre.co.uk


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