REVIEW: Witness For the Prosecution, London County Hall

A new cast has entered the courtroom to bring to life this thrilling courtroom drama.

(c)Ellie Kurtz

It is a rare thing indeed (particularly seeing a play) to see something for a second time and knowing how it ends but to still be thoroughly engaged in seeing how the story unfolds and feeling all the thrill of it as if it was the first time you were seeing it. But this is not only down to the cleverness of Agatha Christie’s play, but also sleekness and compelling nature of Lucy Bailey’s production, taking place in the suitably atmospheric surroundings of London County Hall.

Leonard Vole has been accused of the murder of a woman he befriended six weeks prior to her death – but as the trial unfolds with plenty of twists and turns along the way, the audience is kept guessing right up to the very end as to the outcome of the trial. On a deeper level, the story is a close examination of the justice system and what the truth really means – particularly when it can be manipulated – giving audiences plenty to think about after the trial is concluded.

(c)Ellie Kurtz

Everything about this production has been neatly constructed and choreographed – the scene changes are so effectively done, switching locations with great ease – as the action switches between the courtroom and office of Sir Wilfrid Robarts. With the help of the glorious sound design by Mic Pool, Chris Davey’s powerful and dramatic use of lighting and William Dudley’s authentic designs that effectively sweep the audience back to the 1950’s and fits in perfectly with the surroundings – this is a production that is absolutely absorbing from start to finish.

(c) Ellie Kurtz

Particular moments that stand out are the quiet and reflective ones as both Mr Mayhew and Sir Wilfrid Robarts contemplate as to whether Leonard Vole is telling the truth or not. These moments are really effective in dissecting the complex nature of the truth and justice in the legal system. Meanwhile, the courtroom scenes are gripping but I feel as though some of the examination of the witnesses feels a little bit hurried and could be slowed down in terms of pace to really allow the implications of what they are saying sink in.

The new cast all add fascinating assets to their characters. Joshua Glenister as the accuses Leonard – is particularly interesting as he gets the balance of the character’s likability factor but with just a hint of insincerity to make you wonder just how much of what he is saying is true to make it a compelling performance to watch. He is equally matched by Lauren O’Neil’s dynamic and forthright performance as Romaine who has many different aspects to her personality that she draws out at just the right time – it is a carefully constructed performance.

Elsewhere, there is excellent support in the form of Owen Oakeshott as Sir Wilfrid and Richard Teverson as Mr Myers – whose sparring in the court scenes give real charisma to moments that could end up being a little bit heavy. I also enjoyed Mandi Symonds as housekeeper Janet – delivering real warmth and passion and James Hayes as the sharp minded and fair Mr Justice Wainwright who delivers some of the script’s sharpest lines with great flair.

Overall, Witness for the Prosecution is as sharp as ever and still has the power to thoroughly engage audiences from start to finish.

By Emma Clarendon

Witness for the Prosecution continues to play at the London County Hall and is currently booking until September 2022. To book tickets visit Love Theatre.comFrom the Box OfficeLast, Theatre Tickets or London Theatre Direct.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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