Dial M for Murder spellbinds at The Rep

Can a perfect murder ever be committed, or do human frailties mean we miss tiny details that would inevitably get us caught? That is the premise for ‘Dial M for Murder’, a claustrophobic thriller by Frederick Knott that was most famously bought to life by the genius of Alfred Hitchcock and the beauty of Grace Kelly. A new production by Lucy Bailey is currently playing at The Rep theatre in Birmingham, and I went along to see how the suspense holds up 60 years after it was originally written.

The story is many layered. The glamorous Kelly Hotten plays Sheila Wendice, a once adulterous, now devoted wife of ex- tennis player Anthony Wendice. Her ex-lover Max Halliday has returned to her life after a spell as a television crime writer in New York, but she is determined to stay loyal to her husband. There is only one fly in the ointment, a love letter from Max to Sheila had been lost during the theft of her handbag a year previously, and Sheila has seemingly been blackmailed, although no money has actually been claimed. Sheila is therefore frightened that the dormant affair will be discovered, and put her now perfect marriage to Tony at risk.

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Philip Cairns (Max Halliday) and Kelly Hotten (Sheila Wendice) photo credit Manual Harlan

Unknown to Sheila, Anthony, bitter and dried up in his professional life, knows all to well about the affair, and has been plotting the demise of his wife through the perfect murder. But, as crime writer Max states, there is no such thing as the perfect murder, as human’s are often given away by the tiniest detail that they completely forget about. This proves to be the case, but the clever, calculated Tony Wendice has another plan up his perfectly tailored sleeve. Enter an Inspector with an eye for detail – will he so easily believe the perfect murder?

Kelly Hotten (Sheila Wendice) Photo credit Manual Harlan

Kelly Hotten (Sheila Wendice) Photo credit Manual Harlan

The cast of five players are uniformly excellent. Sheila is played by Kelly Hotten as a kittenish mixture of sensuality, who gradually falls apart as it becomes apparent the police don’t believe she is a victim, but a killer. Christopher Timothy exudes decency as Inspector Hubbard, a little world weary, but still having a real nose for a case that seems to good to be true. Philip Cairns as Max Halliday plays the role like a retro matinee idol, a real Hitchcock style hero who never gives up on trying to protect the leading lady. Robert Perkins is brilliantly seedy as Captain Lesgate, aka Swann, a charming bad apple who finds his past catching up with him in the most terrible way possible. A brilliant cast through and through, but it is Daniel Betts as the charming sociopath Tony Wendice who steals every scene he is in. A cold, calculating, but utterly charming character, Wendice channels the gamut of emotions, from chilling, methodical calculation as he outlines the perfect murder, to faux outraged indignation on behalf of his ‘beloved’ wife.

Christopher Timothy (Inspector Hubbard) Photo credit Manual Harlan

Christopher Timothy (Inspector Hubbard) Photo credit Manual Harlan

Daniel Betts and Kelly Hotten

Daniel Betts and Kelly Hotten

 

Everything else in note perfect in this production. This is a play that is all about the little details, and they are covered to excellent effect, from the blood red set that revolves, allowing you to watch scenes unfold from all perspectives, to the use of silence to build tension. The jazzy theme works very well, especially when it rises to crescendo at key points, and the red curtain that is pivotal to the plot leaves the audience acting almost like a voyeur.

Quite simply one of the best plays I have ever seen, Dial M for Murder is one not to be missed. It runs at the Birmingham Rep until Saturday 17th May. For ticket information, click here.

Introducing my eBay Collections

I have been using eBay as a source of great shopping bargains for more than ten years now. I have found some amazing items over the years, from designer goods to toys for Joe. The eBay site is a veritable treasure trove where you can literally type in any item and find what you are looking for, or you can just browse and bag yourself something you never actually knew you wanted! It is an addictive form of shopping and all from the comfort of your living room.

The eBay website has seen lots of developments in recent years, from eBay shops to the High Street style fashion outlet, which is home to brands like House of Fraser and Boden amongst many famous names. And now, eBay UK is launching eBay collections, and I am very excited to say that I have been asked to be part of this fascinating new project, one which promises to offer a new way of finding exactly what you want on the eBay site.

So what are eBay collections?

The idea is actually a really simple, yet totally effective one. eBay collections are a way of grouping together beautiful items that can be found on the eBay site by using a common theme. This could be linked to colour, season, or style. It can also be linked to something more specific, a person, a film, an era. I was approached to put my creativity to the test by forming 15 collections related to fashion. I needed to think of themes for my collection, and then to find objects currently being sold on eBay that could not only illustrate those themes, but could do it in the most visually beautiful way possible. The images needed to convey the inspiration I could see in my head so that others would be inspired too.

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Examples of some of my collections.

My collections

My first twelve collections were themed around today’s fashion trends and vintage inspirations. I have created collections based around modern-day style icons Kate Middleton and Kate Moss, as well as an animal print collection that is inspired by celebrity style. The legendary style and elegance of Grace Kelly is the focal point for another collection, think ladylike gloves, Kelly style bags and 1950s ball gowns.

I have also created collections which have a vintage feel, but are based on modern television and movie creations. There is a beautiful collection where all the pieces are related to Downton Abbey – flapper dresses, feather headbands and delicate beaded purses. The ladies of Mad Men get their own collection, as does the style of the movie American Hustle, meaning that the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s are all represented. The men are not forgotten either, Mod is back is dedicated to Harrington Jackets, Fred Perry shirts, and everything else that could be considered ‘Mod’.

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Inspiration Kate Middleton

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Inspiration – Kate Moss

Inspiration - Quadrophenia

Inspiration – Quadrophenia

And then there are fabric themes, with ‘denim dreams’ showcasing everything from dresses to dungarees. ‘Leather and Lace’ has the two fabrics both combined, and on their own in a range of gorgeous fashion finds.

Finally I focused on colour. There is a board dedicated to classic Monochrome Madness, featuring lots of beautiful pieces in black and white. To balance the sharpness of the monochrome collection, I added a sorbet style beautiful collection full of this season’s Ice Cream Shades, pretty pieces in pink, blue and mint green.

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Examples of some of my collections.

I will be continuing to add to my collections in the coming months, and will also be adding three new ones, including one dedicated to holiday season.

It would be great if you would pop by and take a look at my collections, and maybe follow or share them on your social networks. You can find all my collections here.

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Eagerly awaited – Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly

The publicity stills and on-set photographs have got people pretty excited about a film set for release in March. ‘Grace of Monaco’ is a film about Princess Grace, formally Grace Kelly, and is set during the early 1960s, a period when the Princess considered returning to Hollywood filming in Hitchcock’s Marnie. This was not a happy period in time for Princess Grace, and by focusing on this particular time, we get to see the not-so-happy ever after behind the fairytale wedding.

In the film Grace is played by a modern Hollywood goddess and style icon, Nicole Kidman. I’m a huge fan of Nicole for both her acting and sense of style, she is fabulous in ‘Moulin Rouge’,’ The Others’ and ‘To Die For’, but I’m not sure how she will play the role and whether she is right for it. Beautiful and glamorous, and tall and elegant, I can see why Nicole was chosen, but I’m still not convinced that Nicole will be anything other than herself doing an impression of Grace. The funny thing is, I would’ve preferred to see Naomi Watts in this role (rather than in the poor Diana film.).

All this said, I’m still looking forward to seeing the film, if only for the fabulous recreations of Grace’s Princess style. This is regal Grace we will be looking at, during her Marc Bohun at Dior period, and the evening dresses that have already been revealed are as spectacular as we would’ve hoped for.

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Grace’s elegant style never fades in its influence. This season, you can channel the Grace look with pieces from Coast. Here are just a few of my faves from the current and new season ranges.

Get the look with Coast

MAE STRIPE SKIRT £110.00 click to visit Coast

MAE STRIPE SKIRT
£110.00 click to visit Coast

LISBETH MAXI DRESS £350.00 click to visit Coast

LISBETH MAXI DRESS
£350.00 click to visit Coast

JASMINE SHOE £55.00 click to visit Coast

JASMINE SHOE
£55.00 click to visit Coast

 

LORI LEE SHORT DRESS £125.00 click to visit Coast

LORI LEE SHORT DRESS
£125.00 click to visit Coast

MANICINE SHORT DRESS £175.00 click to visit Coast

MANICINE SHORT DRESS
£175.00 click to visit Coast

RITA SKIRT £95.00 click to visit Coast

RITA SKIRT
£95.00 click to visit Coast

CAMARA COAT £149.00 click to visit Coast

CAMARA COAT
£149.00 click to visit Coast

SWIRL MAXI DRESS £195.00 click to visit Coast

SWIRL MAXI DRESS
£195.00 click to visit Coast