Witness for the Prosecution; the junior play
Dr Eliott Lockhart and Ms St Clair Ford's production of Witness for the Prosecution was performed with great confidence from a strong ensemble cast of Middle and Upper Fourth Form players.
One of Agatha Christie's lesser known works, this nevertheless has her staple ingredients of intrigue, deception and knife-edge suspense. The stage was set brilliantly for this murder mystery, its central location being the Court of Law, with its dock and witness box matching Big School's wood panelled walls.
Agatha Christie famously said "Very few of us are what we seem" and this was certainly true of two of the play's leading characters: Leonard Vole, accused of murdering an older, richer lady for her money; and his wife, Romaine. Theirs is a complex marital relationship which keeps surprising the barristers and the audience at every turn, right up to the end itself.
In Teddy Pople's (P) Leonard Vole we saw the perfect blend of charisma, charm and vulnerability, with the lurking possibility of something potentially more sinister underneath. He was brilliantly matched with Lulu Candlish (Rv) as Romaine, who was able to conjure a range of emotions with natural ease and sincere believability.
It wouldn't be a Christie play without law and order. Replacing the better known Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, Witness for the Prosecution has defence barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts, assuredly played by Sam Kirby (P). While Mayhew, Mr Vole's solicitor, was ably played by Theo Mully (P). This duo firmly believe in Vole's innocence and their unshakeable resolve to acquit him forms the core of the play's drama as they take on difficult witnesses to uncover the truth.
Their opposition comes in the feisty form of Felix Porter (H), who plays Myers, the lead prosecution. All three actors manage Christie's often demanding and lengthy text with precise vocal clarity, varied tone and excellent use of emphasis.
Ruling over proceedings is Ross Plowman (P) who, as the Judge, brings light relief with his funny asides - perfectly capturing the irascible, prejudiced stereotype of a representative of the upper classes in 1940s England.
Other notable performances came from Julia Cherry (W) as the loyal housekeeper of the murdered victim and Emma Gleave (R), as the rather bumbling yet flirtatious Greta, secretary to Sir Wilfrid.
This play really entertained and challenged its audiences during its run this week.