Monday, 5 July 2010

Witness For The Prosecution Devonshire Park Theatre Eastbourne Review

Witness For The Prosecution
Devonshire Park Theatre
5th - 24th July 2010
(performance seen 5th July)

Cast (appearance order)

Greta - Caroline Oakes
Carter - Michael Gabe
Mr Mayhew - Robert Duncan
Leonard Vole - Ben Nealon
Sir Wilfrid Robarts QC - Denis Lill
Chief Inspector Hearne - Gary Richards
Policeman - Simon Linnell
Detective - Simon Cole
Romaine Vole - Lisa Kay
Mr Myers, QC - Mark Wynter
Mr Justice Wainwright - Peter Byrne
Clerk Of The Court - Michael Gabe
Foreman Of The Jury - Keith Myers
Dr Wyatt - Simon Linnell
Janet McKenzie - Jennifer Wilson
Thomas Clegg - Simon Cole
The Other Woman - Caroline Oakes

Set: The Chambers of Sir Wilfrid Robarts and the Number One Court Of The Old Bailey.

Ben Nealon as Leonard Vole. Is he a murderer?
An incredible cast , a really impressive set and a gripping, superbly acted Agatha Christie mystery with so many twists and turns to keep you guessing throughout.

Without a doubt this is one of the finest plays you could watch this year and in Eastbourne you have a couple of weeks to do so.

With me not watching a heck of a lot on TV I'm fortunate in not being familiar with most Agatha Christie works. Therefore, the first time a production arrives, I haven't really got a clue about the plot or the eventual outcome. For me that makes it all the more enjoyable.

As with most plays there are two parts to the show. The first half is much longer than the second. But there is good reason for this. As I see it, the point the interval arrives at is the best moment of high drama to leave the audience hanging in anticipation for part 2 and the finale.

Lisa Kay star of Witness For The Prosection. Is she an accessory to murder?
The story? Did Leonard Vole murder wealthy Ms Emily French for her fortune? Did he know he was named in the will? Did his wife Romaine assist him in any way?

It's a mighty fine production reinforced with fine actors. There are so many fine actors here. I apologize to those I don't mention here, it doesn't detract from the fact that this is a tremendous performance by all involved.

During the last week I have had the priviledge of meeting two of Britain's the finest artists in their "golden years" Des O'Connor (78) and Ken Dodd (82). Tonight we met another favourite from the older generation.

In his 82nd year (at least according to Wikipedia) Peter Byrne oversees proceedings at The Old Bailey in the role of Mr Justice Wainwright. It's a role which suits Peter down to the ground his character being a firm, but occasionally quick witted, judge.

Unlike Des and Ken we have met the delightful Peter Byrne before. In fact he is the artist we have met the most times, due to the number of fine productions he has been in. There's No Place Like A Home together with And Then There Were None being just a couple of the theatrical productions. But Peter is no stranger to TV either with credits like Dixon Of Dock Green, Blake's 7 and Holby City to name but a few.

Peter Byrne and granddaughter, Pennie at Witness For The Prosecution reception

For the first week of it's run in Eastbourne Peter's granddaughter, Pennie, is keeping him company, both on stage and off.

Pennie, who is to follow granddad into showbusiness is a talented young singer. For these first few days In Witness For The Prosecution she plays one of the many non speaking roles which add to the courtroom atmosphere.

Former Holby City actress, Lisa Kay puts in an excellent performance as immigrant Romaine Vole. Her German accent is also very convincing as she is grilled in the dock by Denis Lill.

Denis is also no stranger to the Devonshire Park Theatre (he last appeared in Spider's Web at the venue). Sporting a beard he has grown especially for the role  of Sir Wilfrid Robarts, QC he plays the defence role so convincingly I think I'd be inclined to plead guilty in the dock, even if innocent, just to avoid facing him!

Dennis Lill aka Sir Wilfrid Robarts QC in Witness For The ProsecutionMy last, but not least, major mention must be for leading man, Ben Nealon. Ben is a former star of the TV series, Soldier Soldier (as Lt. Forsythe). Like Dennis Lill and others in this cast he was also a star of Agatha Christie's Spider's Web.

Always a pleasure to meet after a show, and never appearing to age, he always puts on a brilliant performance whether playing goodie or baddie. This show is no exception for Ben as he gets the chance to throw every form of emotion at the audience in this tense production by The Agatha Christie Theatre Company.

Again, I apologize to the other cast members that I haven't expanded on. Everybody in this cast puts in a strong, convincing, performance and I know I am leaving out people who have massive CV's and who have appeared in Eastbourne many, many times.

But I've got to end this somewhere. I just hope it's enough to convince the people of Eastbourne, holiday makers and people in surrounding districts that this is a superb production and should not be missed.

Devonshire Park Theatre Box Office is 01323 412000 (I'm not connected to them in any way)

5 out of 5 for Witness For The Prosecution
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  1. Denis didn't play the prosecution role - he was the defence, that being the whole point of the role!

  2. Thanks for pointing out my error :)


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