Witness For The Prosecution

“This show is guilty of entertaining, thrilling and surprising us, so overall I'd rate it a great watch

Upon walking in to the London County Hall to watch Witness for the Prosecution, I became entranced entirely by the unique setting. The play is mostly set in a court room and there’s no question that this stunning building is the perfect venue to display the murder mystery. The County Hall was first opened in 1922 and for 64 years it served as the headquarters of local government so it instantly sets the scene and adds an immersive edge. Having the cast walk through the aisles to enter and exit scenes also reinforces the idea that the audience are very much a part of the show.

I found the set to be tasteful and elegant, which was thoughtfully matched by the realistic costumes. Even though we were treated to this spectacular venue to host the play, neither the set design nor costumes were too extravagant or distracting from the narrative. Equally, the slick scene changes truly ensured an ‘order in the court’. There was action from all angles, adequately lit by an abundance of spotlights and lighting. The sinister musical interludes, added whispers and moments of musical suspense provided a soundtrack to the play, fuelling the tense atmosphere throughout.

The plot showcases the fictional trial of Leonard Vole, a man accused of murdering an elderly widow to inherit her wealth, and his plea of innocence to escape a possible execution. This well-known play was written by Torquay-born Agatha Christie and is one of 66 crime novels she wrote. Christie is regarded one of the best writers in history, selling billions of copies worldwide, surpassed only by Shakespeare and The Bible.

The strong storyline was highlighted by the actors and kept the audience engaged throughout, constantly guessing ‘Who-dunnit? I found the humour of this carefully-crafted script carried well, injecting comedy frequently, breaking up the serious and intense moments. In terms of acting, I was immediately drawn in by the strong cast. They stayed true to the court room setting, in the sense that they were completely convicted to their roles.. and their sentences! Ba dum tss!

The lead character, played by Benjamin Westerby, charmed us with his naïve, endearing qualities and brought an animated energy to Leonard Vole. It was obvious he won over the audience straight away. His stage presence in the dramatic opening scene brought an electric intensity which lingered throughout, even if the relevance of the first scene was slightly unclear.

The other cast members sustained the colourful energy in the show - especially Stephen Hogan who was particularly captivating. His perfectly poised demeanour and charisma were a particular delight. He served us a banquet of originality, and realism and I was captivated by his playful take on Sir Wilfrid Robarts Q.C, the defendant’s barrister.

Paul Ansdell playing Mr Mayhew and Katie Buchholz playing Romaine Vole also gave some noteworthy appearances with great comedic delivery. 

The only thing I would suggest to improve was the stenographers pretend typing which occasionally took the my focus off the great acting on stage. In her defence, my opinion here may be overruled, you’ll have to decide for yourself.

In the end, my verdict is that I, along with the sold out audience, found this show to be guilty of entertaining, thrilling and surprising us so overall I'd rate it a great watch. The evidence is clear, I have no objection to it continuing its successful run. I would like to state for the record that I found this gripping show with its twists, turns and surprise ending a real treat with some stellar performances. Case Closed. Court Adjourned.

This show was reviewed on the 5th October 2023.  Witness For The Prosecution runs at the London County Hall is currently booking until the 29th September 2024.  Tickets here: Witness for the Prosecution (witnesscountyhall.com)

Review written by Jasmine Alice

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Photo credit: Johan Persson

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