London County Hall – Witness for the Prosecution

Have you wished for a different ending for a play?

This story originally had a different ending, but Dame Agatha Christie grew dissatisfied with it. The original story ended with Romaine’s revelation that Leonard was indeed guilty, but the author could not leave the main culprit unpunished, so she added a mistress for Leonard and twisted the plot even more.

 

Theatre

The construction of London County Hall began in 1911 and the building was opened in 1922 by King George V. For 64 years, County Hall served as the headquarters of local government for London, initially the London County Council and later the Greater London Council (GLC). GLC was abolished in 1986. The octagonal Council Chamber sits at the centre of County Hall, and provided seating for over 200 council members and four galleries overlooking the Chamber for the public and members of the press. The Chamber is now used for plays and the rest of the building is either under private lease or temporarily empty.

 

Plot

Play starts at Sir Wilfrid Robarts’ office, where Leonard Vole and his solicitor, Mr. Mayhew are waiting for Sir Wilfrid to advise on some matter. As Sir Wilfrid enters, Leonard gets introduction from Mr. Mayhew and starts telling his story. Leonard went to the police earlier that day to testify on a murder he read about in the morning paper. The victim, Emily French, wealthy elderly woman, became very close friends with Leonard and the night of the murder Leonard spent some time with her. As Leonard finishes the story, the police enters and arrests him as the main suspect. Sir Wilfried promises to be Leonard’s lawyer. After the police takes Leonard away his wife, Romaine pays Sir Wilfrid a visit. Romaine seems to be a very peculiar character. She contradicts whatever she says and changes her mind based on what others suppose she should say. Sir Wilfrid tells Mr. Mayhew that anything is expected from that woman. The trial begins and all the evidence seems to be against Leonard. He turns out to be Emily French’s principal heir after recent changes in her will, which Leonard claims he did not know of. Emily French’s housemaid testifies against him as well. The only person to prove his alibi is Romaine, but when she is called to be a witness she accuses him of murdering Emily French. Sir Wilfrid is desperate and as he is discussing Romaine’s traitorous behaviour with Mr. Mayhew later in his house, he receives a letter from an unknown woman, promising to give him some evidence. Sir Wilfrid and Mr. Mayhew meet the woman. The woman sells them a letter, which is a love letter written by Romaine to his lover, Max in Berlin. In her letter Romaine is planning to testify against Leonard to send her innocent husband to prison to get rid of him and enjoy her time with Max. Sir Wilfrid produces the letter to the court next day and Romaine is accused of false testimony. The jury has heard from all witnesses and seen all the evidence; now it’s time for the final verdict. Leonard is pledged not guilty and released from court. Sir Wilfrid is having a word with Romaine and she reveals that the whole fabricated story about the lover Max and a stranger woman was made up to make Leonard look innocent, but in reality he is the murderer. Romaine is ready to go to prison for a short sentence for false testimony, but then enjoy time with Leonard with all the money he inherited. But Romaine discovers that Leonard has been having a love affair with a young girl and has the least intention to wait for Romaine to be released from prison. Furious at Leonard’s treachery Romaine stabs him dead with a knife.

 

Production

Witness for the prosecution is yet another play written by Agatha Christie. It premiered at Theatre Royal, Nottingham in 1953 and soon transferred to the Winter Garden Theatre (now Gillian Lynne Theatre) on the West End. The play has had many revivals since and this production is directed by Lucy Bailey.

Director:         Lucy Bailey

Producers:      Eleanor Lloyd ProductionsRebecca Stafford Productions

Casting:          Ellie Collyer-Bristow

ellie@collyerbristowcasting.com

07986 607 075

 

Ticket

Bought my ticket from The Witness for the Prosecution official website. £39.5 for a middle seat in the front row of the central gallery. The view on the stage was very good, but missed some of the off-stage scenes. Good concession offered to under 26 (£25 for the same ticket).

 

Running time is 2 hours 15 minutes.

 

The Theatre Rat

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