BY JANET ALLEN, EXECUTIVE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
The thriller genre is a great means of gathering people from many different viewpoints and ages under a subject matter umbrella that deeply connects us as humans. We all share a fascination with human evil and murder, whether that comes at the hands of the gentle Agatha Christie, or the bloodthirsty Quentin Tarantino. Dial “M” for Murder lives somewhere in the middle—retaining some of the gentility of the British thriller, it also adopts the sociological nuance of the post-War, ruthless, get-ahead economy, with the very frank plotting of a cold-blooded murder. The play’s gender viewpoint provides another source of its suspense: Margot seems to exist in a world entirely peopled by men.
One of the greatest sources of this script’s enduring power is the same thing that makes it ripe for great performance—the depth of characterization that Frederick Knott brings to the proceedings. We learn a great deal about these characters in deep conversations they share about how their pasts affect their present moments: past misdeeds, past discoveries, past longings. The backstories of the characters seem to have brought them, inexorably, inevitably, to their fateful actions. And unlike today’s movie and TV thrillers, it almost all happens with language. Save one brief action sequence, the suspense is meted out in words, in the cascading power of language to persuade, to confuse, to implicate, to elicit doubt and fear. This makes for perfect stagecraft and delicious work for actors.
As we draw IRT’s 45th season to an end, we thank all of you who have been with us on the journey—a journey bringing this institution from birth into its true adulthood; a journey through many seasons of variety in playmaking; a journey through this season, from The Three Musketeers through Finding Home: Indiana at 200 to Dial “M” for Murder and many others in between. We promise you a world of human experiences packed into each season, and look forward to sharing the 46th with you!
The IRT produces top-quality, professional theatre that engages, surprises, challenges and entertains people throughout their lifetimes, helping to build a vital and vibrant community.
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