Dame Agatha Christie's plays and novels age well — loaded with red herrings and quaint characters, they carry an audience along, even though one may recall the story somewhat.
Each actor's portrayal is different and entertaining, so it's no wonder theater companies choose these scripts so often through the years. She is the all-time best-selling novelist in the world.
Spotlight Theatre Company has chosen “Witness for the Prosecution” and managed a clever staging, given very limited space at the John Hand Theater.
Place: London; time: 1950s.
Experienced director Linda Suttle of Littleton said: “I love Agatha Christie because her stories always surprise me. Lots of twists and turns along the way, red herrings that take you down the wrong road and then the answer that you can't see coming. Great fun!”
Wealthy Emily French is found murdered, and soon after the play opens, we hear Leonard Vole (Thomas Jennings) saying “my wife thinks I'm going to be arrested.” He has visited oh-so-proper lawyer Sir Wilfrid Roberts, QC (Ken Street) in his quarters, asking advice and defense services. (We were told that QC means Queen's Court — i.e. a lawyer.)
Vole had aided Miss French with her business affairs and had been a friend — and he is named sole heir in her will, which had been changed recently. Hmmmm.
It seems he had visited Miss French earlier in the evening in question, but claimed to be home at the estimated time of the murder. No problem, they figure — his haughty German wife Romaine (Kelly Uhlenhopp) can provide an alibi. However, she has other ideas, and takes the stand as a witness for the prosecution, overseen by Mr. Myers, QC (John Gleason) in the courtroom in Act II.
For those who enjoy sharply worded trial scenes, this is a good one.
We hear clever arguments from the lawyers and meet other characters, including a seriously quirky Janet MacKenzie, Miss French's housekeeper, played by the rubber-faced Katie Mangett.
One has to pay attention as claims and counterclaims fly across the stage. Enjoy an entertaining visit with an old friend who is full of surprises.