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Review: WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION, London County Hall

The gripping courtroom drama continues its twists and turns with a new cast

Witness for the ProsecutionWitness for the ProsecutionA new cast has just taken to the stage in Agatha Christie's Witness for the Prosecution. Set in the grand surroundings of London County Hall, the production received Best Revival nominations at the 2018 Olivier and WhatsOnStage Awards.

As with any play of this type, to say much about the plot would spoil it. Suffice to say that it's a pretty gripping courtroom drama with plenty of twists and turns before the final reveal of who's innocent and guilty.

Leonard Vole, defendant in the murder trial, is in a very serious predicament with the highest possible stakes - in 1950s England, death by hanging was still a common sentence for murder. Joshua Glenister does a great job of drawing the audience's sympathy for the down-on-his-luck Vole, making him likeable but with just a little edge that keeps you wondering about his character.

Lauren O'Neil as Vole's German wife Romaine is a real scene-stealer, especially in her first appearance - sassy and almost impossible to figure out, both for the audience and for Vole's legal team.

Vole's barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts QC is desperate to win the case, as much for his own reputation and rivalry with prosecuting barrister Mr Myers QC as for Vole. Robarts is filled with charisma, wit and bravura by Owen Oakeshott, with Richard Teverson providing a worthy sparring partner in court as Myers.

The supporting cast is also high-quality, including Peter Landi as Robarts' stalwart colleague Mr Mayhew, James Hayes as stern but fair Mr Justice Wainwright, and Mandi Symonds as the victim's gutsy housekeeper Janet MacKenzie.

The neatly choreographed set-piece set changes also deserve a mention, along with the overall design. The use of bright white furniture cleverly makes the very open auditorium (the old GLC council chamber) fade into the background during the non-courtroom scenes, yet each time it's removed you again immediately feel like you're there at the trial.

Witness for the Prosecution is a really entertaining play. Settle in, pay close attention and you'll soon be wrapped up in trying to work out who's guilty. You might find you change your mind about that - maybe even more than once - but one thing's for sure: you'll be glad you came.

Witness for the Prosecution is booking at London County Hall until September 2022



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