Review: Witness For The Prosecution by Theatre Mill
Venue: Guildhall, York, April 4
Innocent or guilty? That’s a decision the audience is asked to make in Witness For The Prosecution. Our role is to play the unsympathetic, and often uncomfortable role of the jury, while a hyper-realistic play unfolds in front of our eyes.
The first ever site-specific performance of this classic Agatha Christie mystery is staged in the historical Guildhall council chamber in York by Theatre Mill.
Young and naive Leonard Vole (Andrew Dowbiggin) is accused of having murdered the rich widow Emily French.
His spontaneous and straightforward answers to the questions of his lawyer seems to put him more and more in danger, in a business in which convincing, impressing, and influencing are the only behaviours that can ensure a safe way out.
We then get to know his German wife Romaine (Rachel Logan), a strong clever woman in full control of her emotions. Her attitude seems to disseminate doubts, especially towards her own character.
Witness For The Prosecution addresses the audience directly, and forces us to interrogate ourselves about trust, truth, and objectiveness.
While evidences and assumptions are presented to us, as members of the jury, we can’t avoid questioning how well we can grasp a situation, how deep is our comprehension of the human nature, how well we can interpret information.
In short, who are we to judge?
The striking scenario of the Guildhall, the flawless performance of the actors, the perfect choice of costumes, and impeccable lighting draw the audience into an absorbing experience.
Soon we start behaving like a real jury.
We sit silent and hypnotised during the interrogations, we use the pauses to discreetly express our beliefs to each other, we stand up at the right time, and we weigh information, impressions, attitudes. The active involvement of the audience proves the fact that the play fully achieves its intentions.
An incredible cast is fully immersed into perfectly designed characters and in total control of lines, body language, and movements. The dynamics are skilfully organised.
Set changes are transformed into beautiful choreographies. Hilarious touches are dispensed to lighten the atmosphere without diluting the storyline.
Overall an outstanding work that makes the three-hour play fly gracefully, leaving the audience wanting more.
- Witness For The Prosecution is at the Guildhall until Sunday, April 20, at 7.30pm with a 2pm matinee on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday
- Full details are on the Theatre Royal website
- Read more reviews here