Wednesday, July 6

Witness for the Prosecution – County Hall

A handsome husband; a beautiful, mysterious, foreign wife; a wealthy older woman, now dead; a disgruntled housekeeper. Absolutely classic ingredients for an enjoyable whodunnit, and last night’s performance was up there with the best.

From the opening minutes, which were some of the most dramatic I’ve seen in a long time, you know that this production is something special. The lighting, the choreography, the pounding background music and cries of anguish – everything about this production delivers punchy blows to the senses, taking your breath away and pulling you to the edge of your seat. Even the scene changes are slick and stylised, pure poetry in motion with not a beat missed.

The Chamber at London County Hall provides the perfect setting for this Agatha Christie masterpiece, one of the most opulent and immersive staging set ups I’ve seen. The speakers in the seats are slightly distracting and unnecessary to my mind, but it’s another string to the venue’s bow and an effect which Director Lucy Bailey has clearly had some fun with. The lighting set up is incredibly atmospheric and impressive considering the venue isn’t built for performance, and the thrust stage set up delivers a superb view from every angle.

The performances are strong across the board, and I had a particular soft spot for Mandi Symonds as suspicious housekeeper Janet Mackenzie. Joshua Glenister as Leonard Vole at times felt a tad on the Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em scale but generally steals the show and keeps the audience guessing as to his innocence. Lauren O’Neil as his wife Romaine has one of the more challenging roles in the piece, and while she gives a sterling performance, I struggled with both her accent, and her costume. Both gave me echoes of ‘Ello ‘Ello although this certainly didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the production. Otherwise, I thought the costumes, hair and makeup fit the show perfectly, perfectly conjuring up post-war London, from the formalities and pomp of the British courts to the murky backstreets where dark deals are done.

All of this comes together in one of the most exciting stage productions I’ve seen post-pandemic, and it reminded me what a treat it is to be transported to another world and fully captivated by what’s playing out in front of you. I’ve already recommended this to everyone in my office who will listen to me and am confident in saying that Witness for the Prosecution will appeal to audiences of all ages and dispositions.

Playing until 25th September, https://witnesscountyhall.com/book#

Reviewer: Zoё Meeres

Reviewed: 27th April 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

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