Monday, November 28, 2016

"WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION" A TWISTED THRILLER




Guilt or innocence is a matter of motives and evidence.  Being accused of murder is a serious set of circumstances and one that can be difficult or impossible to disprove.  For Leonard Vole, the warrant for his arrest is like a bad dream, one that escalates into nightmare status.  Thanks to the Mistress of Mysteries and Queen of Suspense, Agatha Christie,  you are being lured into the interrogation and into the courtroom until you feel like you're a "Witness for the Prosecution," courtesy of the Westport Community Theatre weekends until Sunday, December 11.

Dame Agatha Christie started her vast writing career to win a bet that she couldn't write a detective story. She has sold over one billion books with over two billion in print, while J. K. Rowling has only a mere 325 million Harry Potter books on the shelves.  Christie has called this play, one of her twenty, her best. 

The defendant is Leonard Vole (Travis Branch), a man who has not traveled far up the ladder of success, yet one who has some charms and hints of kindness.  He rescued a woman, Romaine (Samantha Pattinson) in Germany after the war by marrying her and taking her home to London and now many years later he again rescues a woman, Emily French, who is about to be hit by a bus on a busy street.

Now Vole is accused of murdering Ms. French as he stands to inherit all her wealth in her latest will.  He claims to know nothing about the inheritance and has, in all innocence,  just cultivated her friendship out of a good heart to ease her loneliness.  Vole has engaged the services of a team of solicitors to prove he is not guilty, from the secretary Greta (Cindy Hartog), to the clerk Carter (Geoffrey Gilbert), the attorney Mayhew (David Victor) to his primary lawyer, the prestigious Sir Wilfrid Roberts (Barry Alan Hatrick) who needs to defend him in court.

Initially Vole's wife Romaine is the primary witness to provide him with an alibi, that he was home with her before  Ms. French met her dastardly fate. On the witness stand, however, being questioned by the accusatory Mr. Myers (Jeff Pliskin), under the watchful eye of the presiding judge (Larry Greeley), Romaine changes her story and casts Vole in a damning light.  To compound her new tale, Ms. French's housekeeper of twenty years, Janet Mackenzie (Kate Telfer), adds her eye witness proof that Vole is guilty.

Who to believe? What of the blood on Vole's jacket cuff?  Why was Vole looking at expensive cruises with a mysterious woman? The clues keep mounting up and the damaging accusations are too high to ignore.  Agatha Christie is a master at keeping you in suspence so you'll have to stay alert and watch for the red herrings.  Tom Rushen directs this taut drama on a revolving set designed by Kevin Pelkey.

For tickets ($25, $23 for seniors and students), call Westport Community Theatre, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport (Westport Town Hall) at 203-226-1983 or online at  [http://www.westportcommunitytheatre,com]www.westportcommunitytheatre,com. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. and Thursday, December 1 at 8 p.m.

Hop aboard the roller coaster of clues as Agatha Christie is the amusement ride's conductor with enough twists and turns to make even Hercule Poirot happy and entertained.

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