This atmospheric and engaging production is thrilling to witness from start to finish.
It is that age old dilemma: how do you talk or write about something without giving away any major details for something that is best to going into expecting the unexpected? Well this is the problem that I’m facing with this brilliantly atmospheric production that has recently reopened at the London County Hall.
Based on Agatha Christie’s play, Witness for the Prosecution follows the trial of Leonard Vole who stands accused of murdering Emily French for her money. What evolves is a story that is an equal examination of the justice system in which Vole finds himself caught up in as well as asking is it a system that really works in getting to the truth of a crime.
Taking place in the lavish and grand secret chamber in London County Hall, Lucy Bailey’s thoroughly engaging production really makes the most of the surroundings, wrapping itself around the audience effectively to make them feel as though they are as much part of the action. In particular, by having some audience members part of the jury and some of the characters seated among audience for example all help make you forget that you are watching a play.
This is helped by William Dudley’s designs which blend in beautifully with the wider surroundings – creating equally chilling as well as warm moments in the show – seen from the unexpectedly dark opening scene and the moments in which Sir Wilfrid Robarts and solicitor try to piece together Vole’s story. Helped along with Chris Davey’s clever lighting design and Mic Pool’s sound design that surrounds you giving you chills down the spine in places, this is a production that gleefully enjoys making the most of every plot twist and turn that keeps the audience guessing right to the very end.
It is certainly a slow-burning drama in the sense that there is plenty that happens and requires a few set changes, which are well done giving the audience a chance to thoroughly absorb what they have just heard. Every scene has been cleverly constructed to make the audience think, highlighting the cleverness of Christie’s ability to ensure the audience is thoroughly invested in what happens right to the last second.
The cast themselves all offer wonderfully detailed performances that catch the attention. In particular though, Emer McDaid as Romaine Vole, beautifully highlights the numerous elements to her character that keeps the audience thoroughly intrigued to get to the bottom of what her true nature is. Joe McNamara as Leonard captures the character’s naivety and boy-next-door charm with great style, while Jonathan Firth as Sir Wilfrid gives a thoughtful and warm portrayal.
Witness for the Prosecution is a thoroughly absorbing and fascinating experience that leaves you with plenty to think about long after the show finishes. A very clever production that makes the most of its surroundings.
By Emma Clarendon
Witness for the Prosecution continues to play at the London County Hall and is currently booking until the 20th March 2022. To book tickets visit Love Theatre.com, From the Box Office, Last Minute.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk or London Theatre Direct.