Peter McGarry is an experienced,
independent professional theatre critic who has agreed to
review Talisman Theatre productions.
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M for Murder
old-style thrillers are timeless, to the point where even
if you know the plot they are always fun to watch again.
is one of them. And although it’s dated in every sense of
the word, like all the works of Dame Agatha, it still has
the power to pack in audiences.
Frederick Knott’s ‘perfect murder’ theme is very 1950s in
style, dialogue and characterisation. We wouldn’t want it
any other way. At the same time it need not be dismissed
as just another pot-boiler because, if handled with care
and sensitivity, it can achieve a nice level of simmering
tension and dark humour.
this doesn’t happen here.
we wait to see whether the complex plan of former tennis
star Tony Wendice to dispose of his wife can be effectively
carried out, an edge-of-seats atmosphere needs to be maintained.
He should also convey a sense of roguish charm and fading
elegance which, in other less murderous circumstances, might
even render him likeable and certainly a cut above the people
such subtleties, the play seems contrived and artificial
things stand, we are left with the mechanics of the plot,
clever enough in their own right, and a bunch of strictly
cardboard characters who constantly fail to ignite.
on a glass-half-full note, the undoubted star of the show
is John Ellam’s superb set which is a striking example of
artistic design lifting the conventional stage image of
a middle-class domestic environment.