Monday, 25 June 2018

 

Agatha Christie's Witness for the Prosecution at County Hall


I've been on an Agatha Christie roll in the past month. After *finally* seeing the new(ish) Murder on the Orient Express screen adaptation (amazing cast, but disappointingly convenient ending), I had the opportunity to check out the critically acclaimed Witness for the Prosecution at the prestigious County Hall on London's South Bank last week and I was utterly gripped by the excellently executed staging for this enthralling murder mystery.

Leonard Vole (Harry Reid) is accused of murdering widow Emily French to inherit her wealth. As audience members you're summoned to jury service to witness his prosecution. We're reminded to only take at face value everything that happens and is said in court – and to ignore anything the papers may have written about this high profile case (in other words, don't always believe what we see in the flashback scenes and moments taking place outside of court!).

In a riveting two hours we witness a slew of testimonials, from Leonard's wife Romaine (Lucy Phelps), Emily's house keeper and experts in the field until, eventually, the jury has to decide: is Leonard guilty of the terrible crime he's been accused of, or is an innocent man about to be framed...?

Agatha Christie knows how to write a gripping tale filled with twists and turns that make you question everything and everyone. Heck, by the end of it I even started wondering if I'd had a hand in the murder myself... Her carefully crafted plots can sometimes be difficult to translate into a different medium, her incredible storytelling skills first and foremost elevating a mystery that has been written down as a novel, after all.

However, the execution at County Hall is as impeccable as any murderous tale I've ever devoured in book format; a literal edge-of-the-seat thriller that holds the audience in its enthralling clutches from start to finish. The slow unravelling of the testimonials, and with it the story, was absolutely on point and had me second guessing 'whodunnit' almost until the very end (when, at last, the pieces of the puzzle fell into place for me - but only moments before the actual reveal). Harry Reid and Lucy Phelps as Leonard and Romaine respectively truly carried the show and the slow change in their characterisations until THAT ending was brilliantly done.

And the phenomenal location! Staging and props were very minimal for this production but having this play set in the gorgeous County Hall really added another level of immersion to the already atmospheric intrigue of the murder mystery. The council chambers may not technically be a court room, but they were certainly transferred into something like it – with benches for the judges on one side of the judge, and a chair for the witnesses on the other.

I'm not normally particularly fond of immersive theatre but that's because you can unexpectedly be pulled into the story, unsure what your role is and what you're supposed to do (with everyone staring at you!). At Witness for the Prosecution this is not the case, it's merely the setting that's immersive, but you're still safe and sound in your dedicated audience seat without having to step foot on stage or interact with the cast members. The people in the judges' benches to the side of the judge did have the spotlight turned onto them once, but this was brief and hardly invasive.

Witness for the Prosecution is a phenomenal staging of an incredibly well-plotted murder mystery. You don't have to be an existing Agatha Christie fan to appreciate this awe-inspiring play. It's hugely exciting to see the gripping tale unravel on the stage at County Hall and as the run has been extended until well into 2019, there is plenty of time for new audiences to discover this absolutely fantastic thriller on stage for themselves (which you absolutely must!).



Witness for the Prosecution is playing at County Hall in London and is currently booking until 31 March 2018. Book your tickets here.


🎵 Listening to: Taylor Swift – Love Story


1 comment:

  1. Wow! I would love to see this. I love Murder on the Orient Express (book), should I give the film a miss?

    ReplyDelete

Share Button