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by Agatha Christie
Sir Wilfred Robarts : Jeremy Austin
Director : David Pile
Set Designer : Colin Pile
The combination of a hot night, a capacity house, an incredibly long first half of an hour & 40 minutes and a fairly static play could have been a recipe for disaster in the form of a very sleepy audience. That we were all bright eyed and bushy tailed for the entire evening says everything about the extremely high standard of this excellent production, which is one of the best I have seen from this group.
Agatha Christie’s courtroom drama is brilliantly constructed, with a denouement that is a real stroke of genius, and the company, under the direction of David Pile, brought it to vibrant life with beautifully paced performances.
The plot centres round Leonard Vole (Paul Dodman), who has been arrested for murder. Sir Wilfred Robarts (Jeremy Austin) hopes to prove his innocence but Vole’s actress wife Romaine (Penny Pearson) changes her story as the case gets underway…
These three central characters are superbly played, as are the major supporting roles of John Mayhew (Richard Neal) and Mr Myers QC (Michael Smith), and Chrissie Neal also makes a great impression in the cameo role of Janet MacKenzie.
There’s a cleverly designed set too.
Linda Kirkman, Scene One
AGATHA Christie's drama is one of those plays where you think you've worked out the ending - but have a shock in the final scene.
With a large cast and the need for a stage set to accommodate both a solicitor's office and a courtroom, it was a challenge for director David Pile, who more than rose to the occasion, although a shorter first half - it stretched to 105 minutes - would have been welcome.
Paul Dodman was very believable as Leonard Vole, who stood accused of murdering an elderly rich woman he had befriended. Penny Pearson was steely as his less-than-loving wife, Romaine and Chrissie Neal provoked mirth as Janet MacKenzie the victim's embittered housekeeper. Michaela Slatford had the chance to embrace two differing personas as the neat little secretary and the tarty other women.
However, the winning combination was Richard Neal as Vole's solicitor John Mayhew and Jeremy Austin as defending barrister Sir Wilfred Robarts. Both men are stalwarts of Wimborne Drama, although Richard has made few appearances of late. You felt you were watching two professional lawyers, rather than two actors playing the parts. Jeremy, with his lugubrious expression and laid back delivery is frequently cast as an upholder of the law - and a jolly good job he makes of it too.
A well-rehearsed production that was a credit to actors and backstage support.
Marilyn Barber, Stour and Avon Magazine