Thursday, 4 April 2019

REVIEW: Witness for the Prosecution at London's County Hall

We seem to be going back in time. Well, that’s certainly how I felt after leaving Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution last night, which is currently being revived for the first time in London’s West End since 1953. Director Lucy Bailey is now summoning a new generation of audiences for jury service in the unique courtroom chamber setting of London’s County Hall in an immersive, and wildly imaginative adaptation of Christie’s play.

Based on a 1925 short story and screen adaptations, Christie’s play is arguably one of her most ingenious and timeless works. With the evidence stacked completely against him, Leonard Vole faces the hangman’s noose after being accused of murdering a widow to inherit her wealth. But will he be able to defend himself and prove his innocence against shocking witness testimony’s and his own wife?

From the moment you set foot inside the magnificent surroundings that London’s County Hall has to offer, you are instantaneously immersed within the story that both Director Lucy Bailey, and this stellar cast are inviting you to join. Headed by Daniel Solbe (Leonard Vole), Jasper Britton (Sir Wilfred Robarts), Ewan Steward (Mr Mayhew), William Chubb (Mr Myers QC) and Emma Rigby (Romaine Vole), the cast of Witness for the Prosecution deliver every element of the production with absolute ease. From scene and set transitions, to the lengthy discussions, disagreements and text within the script, you are constantly drawn in to discover the next set of details to conclude your own personal opinion as to whether you believe Vole is guilty, or not guilty. You are undeniably hooked. To parallel it to modern pop culture, watching this plot unfold is like watching the latest addictive Netflix series, you simply just can’t stop. It’s stressful, it’s engaging, and delivered beautifully within both pace and characterisation by the entire cast. 

Credit must be given in particular to leading man Daniel Solbe (Leonard Vole),
who recently graduated from Italia Conti, and gave a stellar performance with raw emotion, vulnerability and wickedness. 

Convention says that TV has cracked the code on how to portray this kind of Christie mystery, but, when staged as cleverly as this, I dare say that her play’s work better with a live audience. The key, however, lies within the setting, without which this production may not have been so gripping. None the less, if jury duty is truly this addictive, you can sign me up for a weekly service, and with court being extended until March 2020, you have plenty of time to service your sentence. 

Review by Adam Tipping 

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Row E, Seat 123
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