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Classic crime thriller Dial M for Murder at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford

So what do you do when you suspect your rich wife has had an affair? You concoct a plot to bump her off, of course. But with any crime thriller, things don't always go according to plan, and Dial M for Murder is no different.

The show, based on Frederick Knott’s play and directed by Anthony Banks, is at The Orchard Theatre in Dartford until Saturday.

Dial M for Murder stars Tom Chambers and Sally Bretton in rehearsal Picture: Manuel Harlan
Dial M for Murder stars Tom Chambers and Sally Bretton in rehearsal Picture: Manuel Harlan

The story revolves around Tony Wendice (Tom Chambers – Top Hat, Strictly Come Dancing), his wife Margot, (Sally Bretton – Not Going Out, The Office, Death in Paradise) and her old college friend Max (Michael Salami – Hollyoaks).

Margot and Max have history, and Tony is obsessed, and it is that obsession which lays the foundations for a gripping tale.

The play is a classic – both on stage, screen and script – and it's always a challenge to take on anything like that.

I struggled in the first few minutes to get to grips with the back story between Margot and Max, but I think that was more to do with where we were sitting. It's hard to form a relationship with a small cast from up in the dress circle.

Dial M for Murder is a thriller Picture: Manuel Harlan
Dial M for Murder is a thriller Picture: Manuel Harlan

But once I'd got the rhythm of the play – which is pretty fast – the twist and turns just kept coming.

As with all good thrillers, there's a curveball, quite a few of them, so don't lose concentration. And Christopher Harper (Coronation Street) as the detective, Inspector Hubbard, certainly wrestles with the mystery while throwing in a spot of humour too. For good measure, he also has a second part to play, as Captian Lesgate, an old school friend of Tony's.

It's hard for the audience to be thrown into such complex relationships so quickly, but the cast invite them into their world with ease and you're quickly gripped by what happens next.

There is good use of dramatic lighting, music and quieter moments giving the audience the chance to digest one part of the plot before moving onto the next.

There are just five characters and one set, which can be a challenge to tell the wider story but in this case, off-stage is used well, although I did wonder at the start of the play if something had gone awry when Margot seemed to be taking an age to find a letter in the bedroom.

Dial M for Murder starring Tom Chambers will be at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford and the Churchill Theatre, Bromley in March
Dial M for Murder starring Tom Chambers will be at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford and the Churchill Theatre, Bromley in March

But it was a minor niggle in a classic thriller. Catch it while you can.

It is at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford, from Monday, January 27 to Saturday, February 1. Book at orchardtheatre.co.uk or call 01322 220000.

The show is also at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley from Tuesday, March 17 to Saturday, March 21. Book tickets at churchilltheatre.co.uk or call 020 3285 6000.

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