I first got excited about this stage play while attending a scene study class at Carter Thor Studios. I was assigned a scene from the Alfred Hitchcock film version and my scene partner and I spent a good amount of time dissecting it. It made me a fan of Ray Milland, as his Tony Wendice–the protagonist–is so put together, so goddamned smooth all the way up til the end, that I knew I was going to base my performance on his “template.”
My scene partner, Eric, who played the would-be murderer C.A. Swann, is a big man, and the physical dynamic between us was palpable. He would later join the Bird Collective and we spent a good amount of time together training for the fight scene in Hot Box. He’s since been charged with keeping important actors safe (see below).
But I digress…
Knott’s genius in crafting this is all of the little built-in devices, not the least of which is that whole business of the “key under the stair carpet on the fifth step.” Precise details like this, and their cunning repetition, plant seeds in the minds of the audience that Tony has thought of damn near everything. Because even when things start to go wrong he’s still quick on the fly to patch them up.
While it’s not clear why the detective isn’t wary of Tony earlier (and blames Margot instead), the cat-and-mouse bit in the third act is pretty great. If you haven’t seen the play or watched the movie, I’m certainly not going to ruin it for you here.
I bought Dial “M” For Murder because I got it in my head at some point to stage it: produce, direct, and star in it. It is perhaps a bit too ambitious to try to pull off in that way–especially as my current focus is Plants For Lunch–but the play will forever remain a top thriller and well-paced and executed piece for the stage. Maybe 2018?
Give it a look and let me know what you think.