BWW Review: DIAL M FOR MURDER at Bucks County Playhouse - A Play To Die For
It only feels appropriate that the Bucks County Playhouse's 80th Anniversary Season would kick off with a play as historic and celebrated as the theater itself. Dial M For Murder, the play by Frederick Knott, made most famous by Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 film adaption, was brought to life last night on the Bucks County stage in a breathlessly exciting mix of intrigue and adrenaline.
This production, directed by Mike Donahue, served up everything that you want Dial M to be: clever, timeless dialogue, delivered by incredibly capable actors; just the right pacing to keep the audience on their toes, while still allowing them to effectively catch the breadcrumbs dropped along the path to a satisfying ending; and all of this presented on the silver platter that is Anna Louizos' effectively lush set.
For those who have never had the pleasure of being swept up in either the play or film adaptation of Dial M For Murder, the mystery/crime story follows the sinister narrative of Tony Wendice, who has cooked up an elaborate plot to kill his wealthy wife Margot in order to get his hands on her inheritance. When his perfectly crafted plan goes awry, Tony is forced to scheme the police and everyone else caught in the crosshairs of his plan-gone-wrong in order to avoid having his motive revealed.
One of the strongest components of this production was undoubtedly the performance by JD Taylor as Tony Wendice. Playing a character the audience recognizes as the unapologetic villain right from the start, and being tasked with the tall order of keeping the audience not only interested, but invested in his plight, requires an immense amount of finely-tuned skill. Taylor navigated this slippery slope with charm, finesse, and a cunning glint in his eye. While Taylor certainly stood out, it would be remiss of me not to recognize all of the actors in this production, including Clifton Duncan, Olivia Gilliatt, Grant Harrison, and Graeme Malcolm, who weaved together the thrilling narrative like a well-oiled machine.
While it was really in the second act that this show truly picked up steam, this production effectively executed a nostalgic ode to the mystery and crime genres, while still keeping it exciting for a modern audience. My hat is off to everyone involved in this production- it would be a crime to miss it!