Barter will treat audiences to a thrilling game of cat and mouse with its production of “Dial ‘M’ for Murder" on the theater’s main stage.
In this classic thriller that’s been a hit both on stage and in film, washed-up tennis pro Tony Wendice (Nicholas Piper) thinks he has hatched the perfect plan to get rid of his wealthy wife, Margot (played by Piper’s real-life wife Wendy Piper) by blackmailing an old acquaintance to murder her. But when the murder is botched, the story takes an unexpected turn, and audiences will be left breathless as Tony tries to out-maneuver the police and Margot’s suspicious lover (Sean Campos).
Rounding out the cast are Nick Koesters, Michael Poisson, Barrett Guyton and Sean Michael Flattery.
The play is directed by Tricia Matthews, who says “Dial ‘M’ for Murder” is a classic among thrillers, a masterpiece of construction and intricate plotting.
“This is not a typical murder mystery,” Matthews said. “We know ‘whodunit.’ The question is: can he get away with it?”
When Frederick Knott wrote “Dial ‘M’ for Murder,” Knott sent it to seven different theatre management agencies and all seven of them rejected it, with one writing him a letter complimenting the play’s “ingenious little plot” but adding that it “as a whole would cause little interest.”
Knott was thinking of ripping up his script when, finally, the BBC accepted it. BBC Television presented “Dial ‘M’ for Murder” as a 90-minute teleplay in early 1952, and audiences fell in love with it. Thinking that since the play had already been produced on television and no one would want to film it, Knott sold the film rights to Alexander Korda for a paltry 1,000 pounds.
Subsequent theatre productions in London and New York in June and October of 1952 garnered high praise, full houses and, of course, interest in making a film version. Korda sold the film rights for 175,000 pounds to Warner Brothers, who put it into the skilled hands of director Alfred Hitchcock. The film, starring Ray Milland and Grace Kelly, was originally shot in 3D and premiered in 1954.
Knott’s only other real success as a playwright was “Wait Until Dark” in 1966.
“Dial ‘M’ for Murder” runs through Nov. 16.
Tickets are $32, $36 and $39.
For reservations or more information, visit Barter online at www.bartertheatre.com or call the Barter box office at (276) 628-3991.