Liz Coggins reviews Christie's thriller in its new surroundings
Witness for the Prosecution was originally a short story and may be it should have stayed that way. Instead Christie turned it into a rather fusty and static court room drama that lacks pace with overly long pieces of dialogue.
Theatre Mill and RJS Productions have tried to put a new spin on the work presenting it in the round, in the council chamber of Leeds Civic Hall , but despite their valiant efforts have failed to revitalize this tired plot.
Playing in the round is not easy and during the first ten minutes much of the dialogue was lost by weak projection, which happened intermittently throughout the performance.
The story centres around Leonard Vole, accused of murdering an elderly woman, who recently made him the beneficiary to her considerable estate. The proof of his innocence hinges on his wife’s testimony, until the sudden appearance of a mysterious young woman changes the whole cycle of events with startling consequences.
Gordon Kane, as Sir Wilfrid Robarts was outstanding and convincing with cross examinations that would do any QC proud; whilst Niall Costigan, as the accused Leonard Vole, gets the balance of sympathy, love and eventually hate of his character exactly right.
One thing Theatre Mill should do is seriously look at rescheduling the interval to stop the audience becoming restless and losing concentration. Over two hours is a long time to sit on hard wooden seats before an interval break only 35 minutes before the end of the performance.
The play runs until 30th August in the very appropriate council chamber of the Civic Hall.