Based on Agatha Christie‘s 1925 short story, Witness For The Prosecution has not been seen on the London stage since 1953. It is now being cleverly staged at Country Hall on the Southbank, performing this courtroom drama in a real life court.
Leonard Vole is on trial for the murder of a wealthy woman (Emily French) who he had befriended just a few weeks before her death. Unbeknown to him, Emily had changed her will leaving her wealthy estate to him. Leonards wife Romaine gives evidence against her husband saying he confessed to the crime and Mrs French’s house keeper insists that she heard Leonard and Emily talking in the living room that night, well after he says he had left her house before the murder. So who is the real murderer?
I love a good murder mystery and am partial to the odd Agatha Christie story. As a big fan of the TV show Judge Judy, I was obviously excited to go along and see this show played out in a real court room. It all worked very well, with sound effects coming out of speakers in the chairs and heavy footsteps marching in and out of the court as witnesses came and went. The acting was good on all parts and scenes were cleverly transitioned between court room and other places.
The only thing that niggled me were the few inconsistencies in the play. With all murder mysteries you sit there watching, looking for clues as to who might be to blame. But it felt like there were some red herrings thrown in to put the audiences off the scent and I left the show confused as to why certain things had not been explained.
For fans of murder mystery stories who want to see something a bit different, I would definitely recommend Witness For The Prosecution. It is well worth the money and was a fun night out.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Sheila Burnett