REVIEW: Hathersage Players triumph in Witness for the Prosecution

Emily Upton in Witness for the Prosecution, presented by Hathersage Players.
Emily Upton in Witness for the Prosecution, presented by Hathersage Players.

If you like a last-minute twist in a courtroom thriller, you will have left the Memorial Hall in Hathersage with a great big smile on your face after Witness for the Prosecution.

The Hathersage Players’ production of Agatha Christie’s classic ran to appreciative audiences over four nights.

The cast were beautifully led by Emily Upton in the titular role. Miss Upton’s smouldering portrayal of Romaine Vole (pictured) conjured up wonderful memories of Marlene Dietrich in the famous 1957 film of the same name as she coolly foiled all those around her who sought the truth.

The combative Sir. Wilfrid Robarts Q.C., played by the ever-talented Denis Murphy was chiefly foiled. Mr Murphy drove the production with charm and flair, especially so bearing in mind the enormity of the script that he had committed to memory.

Thereafter, the cast played in strong support, notably Rob Hall as the caddish Leonard Vole (as well as directing), Richard Morello as the steady John Mayhew, Joe Hardy as the “irritating” Mr. Myers Q.C. and Val Robinson as the truculent Janet MacKenzie. Humour was injected by some lovely moments from Alistair Cook as Carter/Mr Justice Wainwright and Gail Newsome as Greta.

The scene in 1954 was set nicely using contemporary fashions, music and news items. The swift interplay between the intimate set for the Chambers of Sir. Wilfrid Robarts Q.C. and the impressively grand set for the courtroom at The Old Bailey was something of a triumph with clever lighting changes completing the task.

The challenges faced when presenting a static courtroom drama were successfully overcome using an adapted script with engaging dialogue that tripped along at a good pace from well-developed characters. The gasps from the audience at the twist proved the point.

Hot on the heels of last year’s sell-out sensations of Jane Eyre and Oliver!, this production marked something of an adventurous change by the ambitious Hathersage Players. However, this was a true victory and will hopefully be swiftly followed by another.

STOP PRESS: Hold onto your hats! Their next production is Jessica Swale’s rip-roaring play, Nell Gwynne, a script fresh from winning the best new comedy in the West End, from Wednesday, October 11 to Saturday, October 14, 2017, at 7.30pm.