In a time where I, for the most part, stay in my house like a recluse afraid of the outside world, a trip to the Bellevue Little Theatre was what I needed.
The BLT started off its 2021 slate with “Dial M for Murder,” and I was not disappointed.
From Sherlock Holmes novels as a child to listening to true crime podcasts on my commute as an adult, my mind has always been fascinated with mystery.
This play written by Frederick Knott, which would later become an Alfred Hitchcock movie hit, follows a couple who are seemingly happy. Unfortunately, the wife is in love with someone other than her husband, and when the husband discovers her unfaithfulness, he institutes a devious scheme to kill her. As is often the case, the play has twists and turns which no one sees coming.
In fact, I re-watched the classic Alfred Hitchcock film and a few true crime documentaries to prepare myself for this show.
Like most murder mysteries, the lead up to the murder is perhaps my least favorite part.
But Act One sacrifices itself so that all the other parts of the show shine.
Maybe I am just amped up looking forward to the action and subsequent detective work that the first act dragged on a tad too long.
I quite enjoyed the dark humor throughout the show from hiding a body by putting a small blanket on it to just watching the facial expression of the main culprit when his plan falls apart at the seams.
The BLT always has the best luck with its casting — and the cast for “Dial M for Murder,” is no different.
The star of the show is no doubt Jonathan Berger playing Tony Wendice, making his BLT debut a memorable one and makes me want to see what he can do in future shows.
Berger does an excellent job of portraying somebody that is clearly unhinged and is rotten to their core. The whole time I was watching the show I was wondering how this character’s pride would lead to his downfall.
I am sure Berger is a good person outside of the show but he did such a good job of playing the bad guy that I wanted to hop out of my seat and hold him down for the police.
I liked how the show was set in one place and how the scenery would change subtly via more trash and items thrown about as the show went on.
With my analytical thinking cap on, it almost looked like the more distressed that Berger’s character got, the more disheveled the apartment became.
The murder scene itself was one of the most powerful in the show and it hardly had any dialogue.
While yes, Margot Wendice (played by D. Laureen Pickle) was horrified after she survived her attempted murder, it was the aftermath that showed Pickle’s acting chops.
The look of despair that came on her face when she realized her husband had hired someone to kill her was utterly heartbreaking to me.
Pickle does a superb job of capturing someone that is completely mentally broken to their core.
I did not mind Gene Hinkle as the mystery writer Max Halliday, but it is kind of hard to like a guy that was in a marital affair with someone from the onset of the show.
By no means does this affair excuse an attempted murder, but it does make it harder to cheer for a guy when he solves the mystery.
Hinkle does a good job of playing the part of someone who is doing everything in their power to save the person he loves.
BLT did an amazing job with the classic show and I declare that this is a must see show, with a small but powerful cast of actors and excellent set design.
I would probably keep the younger kids at home, but those 13 and up would be able to handle the show’s material.
The BLT’s production of “Dial M for Murder” earns five out of five stars for me.
Reservations are required and the size of the audience is limited. Reservations may be made by calling 402-291-1554 or by registering on BLT’s website: bellevuelittletheatre.weebly.com.
COVID-19 protocols will be enforced for all performances. Masks and social distancing will be required.
Adult tickets are $20; seniors $18; students with proper id $10.
“Dial M for Murder” will run on weekends through March 21.
Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings and 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoons.
The theatre is located at 203 W. Mission Ave., in Olde Towne Bellevue.