THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH – 25 MAY 2019 & TOUR
RUNNING TIME 2 HOURS AND 40 MINUTES – 1 interval
Theatre Royal Plymouth Box Office – 01752 267222
REVIEW – CORMAC RICHARDS – 21 MAY 2019
The courtroom drama is almost a theatrical genre all of its own and yet, there are not that many of them really. ‘Twelve Angry Men’, ‘Witness For The Prosecution’, ‘The Caine Mutiny Court Martial’ are all excellent examples, but they have been around for some time, so it is rather refreshing to see something new which more than fits the bill.
‘The Verdict’ started life as a novel by Barry Reed before being adapted by David Mamet for a film starring Paul Newman, James Mason and Charlotte Rampling, directed by Sidney Lumet. It was a tremendous film with the acting to the fore – both Newman and Mason received Oscar nominations. The story of a washed up, alcoholic lawyer regaining some personal and professional self respect by taking on a medical negligence case against a hospital run by the Catholic Church provides plenty to get your teeth into. The play adaptation by Margaret May Hobbs is lucid and careful to ensure the complexities of the case itself does not lose its audience.
Ian Kelsey gives a fine performance as the lawyer Frank Galvin, shambling, half-cut and a prey to his emotions, this is excellent work and in his summing up to the jury (the audience) he has everyone in the palm of his hand. As his hypochondriac friend and sidekick, Denis Lill shows just what a brilliant character actor he is – he has the best and funniest lines in the play – it is a joy to see such skill on display. Christopher Ettridge, another seasoned performer, is also on top form as the defence barrister, Concannon, a wily fox who doesn’t lose a case lightly. There is good work too from Richard Walsh doubling as the bishop and the judge and an excellent cameo from Holly Jackson Walter as a key witness. A few of the smaller roles were a little ‘stagey’ performance wise, but that apart the actors were on the nail.
Director Michael Lunney not only co-founded Middle Ground Theatre Company (whose production this is), but also directed and designed the play and found time to take on two roles – all power to him. The play is very much one of two halves with the first half laying out the facts of the case and giving the audience the full back story, and the second half being the court hearing – it’s a perfect format. Lunney crafts the tension well and, quite literally, you could have heard a pin drop in the final exposition, such was the atmosphere created.
The multiple settings were very well designed – a quite superb painted backdrop of Boston in the snow was stunning – as was the big and bold courtroom – excellent stuff.
As a story, ‘The Verdict’ brings up with it a number of moral issues – not least euthanasia, which is only really touched on – it may not be investigated in the novel, but it wouldn’t have been far from many members of the audience’s mind I am sure.
An excellent addition to the courtroom genre, ‘The Verdict’ is given a first-rate production with performances to match. A tense, taut and satisfying piece of theatre.
FRANK GALVIN – IAN KELSEY
MRS MCDAID – ANNE KAVANAGH
BISHOP BROPHY/ELDREDGE SWEENEY – RICHARD WALSH
EUGENE MEEHAN/DANIEL CROWLEY – MICHAEL LUNNEY
DONNA ST LAURENT – JOSEPHINE ROGERS
MOE KATZ – DENIS LILL
- EDGAR CONCANNON – CHRISTOPHER ETTRIDGE
REXFORD TOWLER – PAUL OPACIC
MARY ROONEY – KAREN DRURY
MICHAEL MADDEN – GREG FITCH
LIONEL THOMSPON – OKON JAMES
BAILIFF – JAMES MORLEY
CLERK – JOG MAHER
JURY FOREMAN – ALEXANDRW FISHER
NATALIE STAMPANATTO – HOLLY JACKSON WALTERS
DIRECTED & DESIGNED BY MICHAEL LUNNEY
LIGHTING DESIGN – JEREMY BARNABY
MUSIC – LYNETTE WEBSTER
DIRECTOR OF SCENIC ART – JON GOODWIN