Review: “Dial M for Murder” at the Guthrie

Posted: February 29, 2024

Playful adaptation brings Hitchcock classic to classic stage

Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, The Guthrie’s Dial M for Murder is a charming and comedic production of a classic theatrical story.

The show follows the twisted journey of Tony Wendice — a man plotting to murder his cheating wife after finding a letter from her lover. Tony’s wife, Margot, had been having her secret love affair with a colleague of Tony’s, Maxine Hadley. In his attempt to have Margot murdered, Tony reaches out to an old friend of his to do the dirty work. However, when their elaborate plan falls short, chaos ensues.

Guthrie Theater

Director Tracy Brigden made a grand Guthrie debut with Dial M for Murder. Brigden’s production of the show manages to capture the highs of Hitchcock’s 1954 film rendition, but with a distinct and uniquely playful nature.

Immediately the viewer is whisked away into the world of these characters, caught up amidst their plights and struggles. A show that is rather ridiculous on paper manages to evoke emotion in the audience. Though not your typical “whodunit,” the same mystery genre appeal applies. This show leaves you in question, waiting to see if the seemingly obvious criminal will finally be caught. 

The ensemble managed to display acting at its most brilliant with a relatively small cast. Particularly impressive was David Andrew Macdonald, who played Tony Wendice. Macdonald had a natural stage charisma; he’s adept in hitting every comedic cue at due time. His performance was elevated by counterparts Gretchen Egolf (Margot Wendice) and Lori Vega (Maxine Hadley). 

The costumes — designed by Valérie Thérèse Bart — were a contribution to, and a reflection of, the show’s overall quality. Each character’s attire received a distinct pop of color, or intentional lack thereof. The outfits conveyed both character personality and tone. Tony Wendice, being the nearly endearing but still deplorable figure, had a fairly bland look to his appearance, while Margot and Maxine’s characters could be seen in numerous vibrant colors. 

In companionship with the show’s use of costumes was Walt Spangler’s set design. Dial M for Murder works with a small set but manages to display a lot with the limited space. The viewer spends the whole show in the Wendice apartment; a tiny, but flashy loft. The attention to detail in the set was striking, and every aspect of it had a purpose to the larger plot as the show progressed.

As usual, the Guthrie delivers a smart, and most of all, entertaining production. Dial M for Murder is a must-see, enthralling show that is bound to be pleasing to a variety of audiences.

(Dial M for Murder ran from January 26 to February 25, 2024, on the Guthrie’s Wurtele Thrust Stage in Minneapolis. Dylan Lennick, James Wilson and Josephine Johnson attend the play as part of Journalism Day at the Guthrie, sponsored by Journalism Educators of Minnesota.)

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