Dial M For Murder, the Playhouse, Liverpool.

IN this day and age, a mobile phone would take the place of the classic red version we see on stage in this wonderfully-paced crime thriller Dial M for Murder.

The Hitchcock film is long-regarded as a highlight of the thriller genre - dialogue and plot twists and turns making great cinematic bedfellows.

In the right directorial hands - here Lucy Bailey and designer Mike Britton - it still works in theatres.

Who did it? Why did they do it? Where did they do it? When did they do it? And - ultimately. - what did they gain from the dastardly deal?

The five Ws provide the answer. Writer Frederick Knott unravels the scheming. All this sleuthing around gave me a reviewer's headache -figuring it all out.

But, along the way came Christopher Timothy as Inspector Hubbard...the detective who was my paracetamol - so to speak.

He had to vet the suspects including Kelly Hotten's sultry Sheila.

His mild-mannered questioning was handy, coming from the actor who became a household-name in All Creatures Great and Small.

This touring production is slick and beautifully-performed by a cast of seven.

Murder mysteries are a great theatrical tradition and I look forward to Robert Powell as Poirot in November at the New Brighton Floral Pavilion.

You can give away too much in a whodunit review, but I must give special reference to a swishing curtain...yes, drapery plays a part like a silent witness to the proceedings.

Dial M For Murder is a serious piece of drama that will keep you guessing to the end.

This is the type of show that is timeless.

A two-hour period piece with costumes and props to match as elegance shines through in every lovingly -created detail.

Globe verdict: 8/10. Engaging.

The run at the Playhouse ends tomorrow, Saturday, March 8 - Twelfth Night opens at the Everyman that same night.

Box office: 0151 709 4776.