"Dial 'M' for Murder," Frederick Knott's popular British murder mystery, completed a three-weekend run last week, staged by McLean Center Theather.
The mystery of the production is that, although the cast was almost uniformly good, the play lacked the suspense to keep the auidence's interest alive.
Harriet Barrett led the cast in the right direction with her outstanding performance as the about-to-be-murdered wife, Margot Wendice. Barrett communicated a sense of restrained suspicion, of imminent doom, which lays a suspenseful foundation for the production.
Unfortunately, the director did not build on her acting instincts. The east needed tight directional control to pull together the mostly skilled, individual performances into a cohesive, dramatic structure.
Technically, the show also needed tightening. Light ones particularly were a problem at a second weekend performance.
Members of the cast included Ben Fulton and Tony Wendice and Dave Cahn as Max Halliday. Fulton was clever but unconvincing as the murderous husband. Cahn as Halliday was earnest but overanxious and stiff as Margot Wendice's former lover.
Tom Faver was Captain Lestate. Ron Treichel played Inspector Hubbard and Larry Boteler was cast as Thompson. The set design by Sam Williams was superior. The director was Danny Brogan.
McLean Center Theather's next two productions are "The Country Wife." Feb. 23-24. March 2, 3, 9, 10 and "Last of the Red Hot Lovers," May 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19. All performances are at 8 p.m. in the Alden Theater of McLean Community Center. Call 323-6339 for more details.