REVIEW: WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (Country Hall)

Agatha Christie’s play Witness For The Prosecution was originally adapted from her 1952 short story, Traitor’s Hands. Opening in London in 1953 and on Broadway in 1952, the courtroom drama enthralled audiences and has since been adapted for film and television multiple times. Christie herself always envisaged her drama playing out in a site-specific production and this year marks the fifth anniversary of the play in the magnificent surroundings of London County Hall. To mark this occasion, a new cast joins to tell Christie’s tale of murder, deception, innocence and passion in a production that has garnered critical acclaim.

Witness for the Prosecution sees Leonard Vole called to the stand after he’s accused of murdering a widow to inherit her wealth. His wife Romaine is called to the stand, but testifies in a shocking manner, speaking out against her husband. The stakes are high – will Leonard survive the shocking witness testimony, will he be able to convince the jury of his innocence and escape the hangman’s noose?

Lucy Bailey directs the shows eighth cast which includes Harry Reid (EastEnders) as Leonard Vole, Naomi Sheldon (Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Good Girl, Sex With a Stranger) as Romaine Vole, Dugald Bruce-Lockhart (Private Lives, The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson, Mamma Mia!) as Sir Wilfrid Robarts Q.C and Justin Avoth (My Brilliant Friend, Love From a Stranger, Bad Education) as Mr Myers Q.C. They’re joined by Rosanna Adams as Greta/Miss Clegg, Lorraine Amako as Stenographer, Daniel Bravo as Judge’s Clerk, Jonathan Coote as Mr Mayhew, Nicholas Day as Mr Justice Wainwright, Myles Devonte as Court Officer 1/Randall, Greg Fitch as Solicitor, Kevin M Golding as Wyatt/ Carter, Lawrence Haynes as Court Officer 2, Isabella Kibble as The Woman, Paul Mcewan as Inspector Hearne, Simon Rhodes as Warder, Tom Syms as Clerk of the Court and Lucy Tregear as Janet Mackenzie.

As Leonard Vole, Harry Reid is a tour de force able to draw the audience’s heart strings. Easily able to make us laugh in one moment and cry the next, Reid really has fun with Vole sinking his teeth deep into the character. As his wife Romaine Vole, Naomi Sheldon gives a commanding performance. Sheldon’s portrayal of Romaine is confident and decisive giving femme fatale vibes while keeping the audience on the edge of their seats throughout. Dugald Bruce-Lockhart gives a striking performance as counsel of the accused Sir Wilfrid Robarts Q.C. The most accomplished of the two lawyers, Lockhart leans into his characters lofty confidence, reassuring the audience as they vote on Voles fate as the make-shift jury. As the cracks begin the show in the case Crown prosecutor Mr Myers Q.C. unravels and Justin Avoth gave an entertaining performance of this man on the edge.

Presented in-the-round in the historic Chamber Room of London County Hall, this Witness For The Prosecution is a true ensemble show. Often playing multiple characters, the cast make scene changes throughout bringing simple furniture to the stage to depict locations while accompanied by music that drives the tension forward.
The Chamber Room of London County Hall is the perfect setting for Witness For The Prosecution. Historically rich and beautifully designed, the Hall focuses the audience’s attention to the centre point of the room naturally drawing you into the story which makes for a thrilling performance.

As the nights gets darker and the weather colder, make sure to get tickets for Witness For The Prosecution and join the thousands of people who’ve been gripped by the case of Leonard Vole and had their imaginations captured in this Agatha Christie classic.

★★★★★

Review by Stuart James