OH and I are theatre lovers and have recently been lucky enough to see two productions that were totally different but excellent in their own ways. I have learned not to read theatre critics reviews as I am often disappointed by the ones they give 5* to and then miss out on a good show because I have read a bad review. I look for a show that keeps me engaged until the last curtain call, maybe sets me thinking or just leaves me feeling uplifted. There is so much talent about that I can honestly say that I have not see a bad performance and I am always impressed but I love to see a new face that is clearly going to light up stage and screen for the next few decades.
So these are my theatre reviews for Witness for the Prosecution and Girl from the North Country.
WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION: This Agatha Christie play was adapted from her short story, Traitor Hands. It was first published in 1925 in the American magazine, Flynn’s Weekly, and subsequently retitled The Witness for the Prosecution for its inclusion in the 1933 collection The Hound of Death. Christie would herself later dismiss the story as no more than a sketch and yet it is now regarded as her greatest work as a dramatist! The play is set in The Central Criminal Court, The Old Bailey. This current production is being performed in the Council Chambers at London County Hall which is a perfect setting for such a play as the audience immediately feels that they are in a real court. This is a deliciously enjoyable revival and it has the same twisty-turn-y fun as the best Christie TV adaptations. I can’t say too much for fear of ruining the ending. However the performances are all excellent and they seem to have a lot of fun performing this play. Catherine Steadman as Romaine is particularly good. Well worth going to see but take your own snacks as County Hall is not quite geared up for interval snacks – Malteasers were nowhere to be found!
GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY: I have never been a fan of Bob Dylan songs as he always sounds like Daffy Ducky however his lyrics are pure poetry. So to see them performed as part of a play by some incredible talent was mesmerising. The play is written and directed by Conor McPherson and it is not a greatest hits compilation or a classic West End blockbuster where the songs drive the plot. Rather it’s a conversation between the songs and the story. It is set in the years of the Depression where race played a major role. Sheila Atim as Marianne Laine has a voice so strong and emotive that you wish she could have sung more. However it is Shirley Henderson as Elizabeth Laine who steals the show. Her part is an older mother suffering from dementia with haunted eyes and a skinny body of rubber but with a voice so big that you cannot believe it is produced by her. Ciarán Hands holds the play together, never off the stage for any length. The play is powerful and thought provoking and so Bob Dylan’s music is a powerful backdrop to it all.