REVIEW: Motives Abound in Avon Players’ ‘Dial M for Murder’

Fear. Jealousy. Money. Revenge. Protecting someone you love.

When it comes to murder, these are the five examples Max Haliday (Chris Stepnitz) gives as justifiable motives. And each one plays a pivotal role in Avon Players’ latest production, Dial M for Murder.

In many ways, Haliday is the smartest character on the stage—even if he’s not always aware of that fact. His job as an American television crime writer gives his imagination access into the deepest corners of human nature. And this talent is what allows him to understand what drives a person to take drastic measures.

Chris Stepnitz as Max Haliday and Julia Timko as Margot Wendice
Photo credit: Avon Players Theatre Facebook Page

Written by English playwright Frederick Knott, most people are familiar with Dial M for Murder thanks to the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, who turned the play into a movie in 1954 starring Grace Kelly. The story centers around an English couple, Margot (newcomer Julia Timko) and Tony (Kyle Bushre) Wendice. He’s a former playboy tennis pro and she, his very wealthy wife. As the play opens, we learn that Margot and Max were once lovers, but broke it off when Tony retired and got a more stable job. All evidence of their affair has been erased… save for one love letter that was stolen. Margot confides to Max she has been receiving blackmail notes regarding the stolen letter. Desperate to keep Tony from knowing, Margot begs Max to keep quiet about the missing letter. What Margot and Max fail to realize is that Tony knows all about the affair and like a spoiled child whose had his favorite toy taken away, he wants to make them pay. Not because he truly loves Margot. No. Rather he’s in love with the lifestyle his wife’s money affords him and he’s afraid of what his life would look like without it. So, for a year he methodically plans his revenge. Of course, Tony isn’t the type of guy to get his hands dirty, so instead he blackmails a less than scrupulous former classmate Captain Lesgate, played suavely by newcomer Peter Nichols, to do his dirty work for him. Tony’s Achilles heel is typical one for a narcissist – he truly believes he’s clever and that he has all his bases covered. To this end, Bushre plays the part as the brooding and slightly infantile Tony to perfection.

Just what is Tony Wendice (Kyle Bushre) up to?
Photo credit: Avon Players Theatre Facebook Page

Seeing no way out of it, Lesgate agrees and sets in motion the events that lead to murder. But when the plan goes sideways, who ends up taking the fall? Tasked with uncovering the whodunit is Inspector Hubbard, played wonderfully by newcomer Steve Sanger. What I loved about Hubbard is that he isn’t as naïve as he first appears. In fact, he’s rather like an East End version of Columbo. He takes his time, but in the end, he gets where he needs to be with spectacular results.

While Dial M for Murder is typically viewed as a thriller, the performance I saw seemed more like a comedy at times. Not sure if that’s what the actors were going for, but the audience definitely was enjoying the comic relief, including this reviewer.

Come see if anyone gets away with murder at one of these remaining performances:

  • Sunday, March 11        2:00 p.m.
  • Friday, March 16          8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 17      8:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 18        2:00 p.m.
  • Friday, March 23          8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 24      8:00 p.m.

Tickets for all shows are $18. Call 248-608-9077 for tickets or order online at Group rates are available by calling the box office. “Like” Avon Players Theatre on Facebook for special offers on tickets. Visa and MasterCard are accepted. All seats are reserved.


About Sarah Hovis

Freelance wordsmith, arts appreciator, grammar geek, sports spectator, stationery snob, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at

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