Arts & Leisure

WCP’s fatal charm at “Dial M for Murder”

“DIAL M FOR MURDER” was performed at the Westminster Community Playhouse (WCP photo).

By Thom deMartino

Even the best laid plans may go awry … How much more so, when planned by the shallow and the scheming?

Westminster Community Playhouse had a mind for murder in its most recent offering “Dial ‘M’ For Murder,” a friendship turned forbidden romance has been put to rest by wealthy English socialite Margot Wendice (Justine DeAngelo) and her friend and former paramour, Max Halliday (Eduardo Mora), an American scribe of radio plays.

Formerly unhappily married to English tennis luminary Tony Wendice (Jesse Seann Atkinson), she’s found herself giving the relationship one more try, as the previously juvenile athlete has become much more loving and responsive within the last year… Just about the time she had lost her purse at the train station — a purse containing the most precious of Max’s love letters to her, the one she couldn’t bring herself to burn. But Max, who fancies himself an expert on crime (having produced it 52 times a year, through his radio screenplays) finds the timing of the loss of the damning letter and Tony’s reformation a bit too convenient … And he’s not wrong.

Indeed, having discovered the letter, Tony may be incensed about affair, but moreso the possibility of losing his meal ticket: and he has plans to keep himself well taken care of, while exacting his revenge. Contacting an old school chum who’s turned to petty crime, C.A, Swann (Mason Meskell), Tony reveals he’s not only been following him, but plans to blackmail him — if he doesn’t do away with Margot. Caught between a rock and a hard place, the enraged man has little choice but to agree.

But the devil’s in the details… And Tony’s meticulously laid schemes may be ripe for upheaval…

Jesse Seann Atkinson was delightfully wicked as Tony: alternating between his aloof air and determined menace, sure that his devious plans will unfold as he intends, and adapting when events stymie said plans; Eduardo Mora’s Max was an earnest, if unlikely, heroic figure — initially willing to accept his love’s decision to make her marriage work, but prepared to be there should it not; Mason Meskell was alternately menacing and sympathetic, as a fallen friend unable to overcome his self-created circumstances; and Eric Nelson as Inspector Hubbard was a crafty and astute investigator, fully aware that things are not as they seem.

But it was Justine DeAngelo as Margot that the entire piece revolves around — as a woman torn between her heart and her head, in love with Max but wanting to give her childish husband one more chance to make right: vulnerable but determined, with a resolve to survive in circumstances beyond her control.

It was compelling show, with nuanced performances by an outstanding cast. Though you may have missed the final performances, there’s more great work waiting in the wings from WCP.

“Dial M For Murder.” Justine De Angelo, Jesse Seann Atkinson and Eduardo Mora stared in this tale of murder, blackmail and revenge. Recently finished its run at the Westminster Community Playhouse, 7272 Maple St, Westminster, CA 92683, ticketing information for upcoming shows available online at http://www.wctstage.org, or call (714) 893-8626.

 

 

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