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Witness For The Prosecution - Kalamunda Dramatic Society

Reviewed by Kate O'Sullivan


Agatha Christie's Witness for the Prosecution, first staged in London in 1953, centres around Leonard Vole, a young man who stands accused of murdering a rich widow, and the court case that follows. Kalamunda Dramatic Society (KADS) are bringing this classic tale to the stage, directed by experienced director Peter Neaves.

Keelan Thompson as Leonard Vole, the central character, plays a nicely naturalistic interpretation with some lovely small physical choices, coming across as both down on his luck and strong enough at the end of the show. It would have been nice to see a little more variance in some of his courtroom interjections, but that's partially to do with the staging. Jay Shaw was a slightly older Romaine Vole than we typically see, which set up an interesting, almost maternal, dynamic between her and the younger Leonard, but a strong choice in characterisation kept us on board with her, and a good use of accent work throughout the show (no spoilers). There were moments where a little more naturalism might have been used to strong effect, especially late in the second act, just so as not to give away the twist ending of the show.

Opening night nerves seemed to take hold for John Pomfret as Sir Wilfred Robarts QC, with some lines dropped and lag in picking up cues but the characterisation choices, especially in the two-hander scenes with Tim Riessen as Mr Mayhew, gave us a lovely boys-club dynamic that was appropriate to the era. David Prickett also gives us a nicely strong and pretentious Myers QC, the opposing counsel, with a good use of the space available to him and a strong accent choice that was consistent throughout.

In terms of the minor characters, Anita Bound grabs hold of the role of Janet Mackenzie (a small but important role in the overall story) and has an absolute ball with it. Her performance was a breath of fresh air, with just the right level of comedic timing. Paul Larder had a lot of fun playing the Judge, with a lovely tongue-in-cheek portrayal and just the right amount of power against the two Queen's Counsel. Some of the other minor characters did run into projection issues partially due to upstaging issues, but this may rectify itself throughout the run.

The KADS stage always presents a difficult challenge to directors, especially those who want to use a substantial set. The attempt to use the space as both the legal office of Sir Wilfred and the Courtroom led to both settings feeling cramped, and locked to one half of the stage. This choice also lead to a lot of actors upstaging themselves, or becoming blocked by other actors, especially in the office scenes. The set itself was simple, so perhaps some rearrangement of the furniture might have alleviated these issues. The use of lighting to section off the office was a welcome one, as well as the nice use of spotlighting on the witness box, something that could almost have been used more. Costuming was serviceable, but sometimes hard to determine exactly what period we were in due to some anachronistic items.

A show that will keep the audience asking questions about the nature of justice in the car on the way home. Worth the drive up the hill to take in a classic piece of theatre.

John Pomfret (Sir Wilfred Robarts QC), Tim Riessen (Mr Mayhew) and Keelan Thompson (Leonard Vole) in rehearsal.

Reviewer Note: Kate has previously performed at KADS in 2014, and was awarded Best Supporting Role at the KADS Awards Night. Tickets for this review were provided by the theatre company.


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