“Dial L for Latch-Key” – An Absurdist Tribute to Alfred Hitchcock

15 04 2011

Scott Fivelson performs a mash-up of Alfred Hitchcock movie tropes in his charming one-act play “Dial L for Latch-Key.” As the title suggests, the play takes “Dial M for Murder” as its starting point, then spins out in some very funny and strange directions.

“Dial L” features four main characters: Raymond, the scheming husband who looks like Ray Milland; G, his wife, awaiting execution for a murder committed in self-defense; Bob, a cocky American, and G’s boyfriend; and the Inspector, investigating the crime before it’s too late. In “Dial M for Murder” the inspector was played by John Williams, and Fivelson captures Williams’ tongue-in-cheek performance as a seemingly bumbling but actually razor-sharp detective.

The references to Hitchcock films fly fast and furious in Fivelson’s witty dialogue, as characters discuss notorious plans, family plots, proving someone’s guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt and more. It’s a treat for Hitchcock fans, replete with appearances by the hired killer who tried to kill G, a know-it-all film critic who resembles Peter Bogdanovich, and Hitch himself, who arrives in time to berate the cast for their inept attempts to catch the real criminal.

But “Dial L for Latch-Key” is more than a tribute to the Master of Suspense. It’s a full-on trip into absurdism, beginning with the steamer trunk in the first scene that’s decorated with travel decals boasting of trips to Sing-Sing, Leavenworth and the Old Bailey. G’s time in prison, awaiting execution, has changed her; as she puts it in a newly acquired accent, “I went in British, I came out Russian.” The shifts in identity seem to be catching; Bob is secretly an FBI agent, and the Inspector, too claims to be Russian – with the name Latchky.

“Dial L for Latch-Key” recently had a successful run at the New End Theatre in London. It’s published by Hen House Press, and you can order it from Amazon here.

And you can revisit my article on “Dial M for Murder” here.

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One response

16 06 2011
Dorian Tenore-Bartilucci

Adam, DIAL L FOR LATCH-KEY sounds like a real treat for comedy-thriller fans in general and Hitchcock fans in particular! I look forward to reading the published play. I checked the Internet and found out from an issue of TIME OUT LONDON that DIAL L FOR LATCH-KEY is currently being performed at a Fringe Festival there.

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