North Texas Daily

The Dose: ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ impresses at local theatre

The Dose: ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ impresses at local theatre

The Dose: ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ impresses at local theatre
September 17
19:43 2015

Harrison Long | Editorial Writer

@HarrisonGLong

Saturday evening I was fortunate enough to have been able to view the second showing of the Denton Community Theatre’s production of “Witness for the Prosecution.” As I am a fan of the quintessential 1957 Agatha Christie thriller of the same name, the excitement I felt at being able to see a live reproduction, at a local theatre no less, was substantial to say the least.

The picture is listed as No. 76 on IMDB’s top 250 films and sits virtually unmatched in the archives of the Rotten Tomatoes website at 100 percent. To put it in the terms of the site’s authority, it is “certifiably fresh.”

I filed into my seat near the middle of the modestly-sized theatre and sat in anticipation for the show to begin, anxiously examining the set moments prior to the proverbial curtain raise.

The production team had understandably, and quite cleverly, gone with a minimalist approach when designing the set. There was a desk, a couple of chairs, and other assortments of props to give the audience the feel of tension in the scene without distracting them from the dialogue or progression of events.

The plot is like many others in the courtroom drama genre: a man, presumably innocent, stands accused of the premeditated murder of a wealthy widow with whom he has recently struck up a friendship. There is the shrewd attorney attempting to prove his innocence, the beautiful wife of the accused whose loyalty proves questionable and the prosecutor who has made it his sole purpose to vilify the plaintiff, often shocking the audience with his approaches in the courtroom.

Witness-For-Prosecution-Poster-way-smaller-1024x711

The pieces fit together like a well-worn puzzle, but the twists, turns and ulterior motives of those involved, or not involved, keep the intrigue palpable.

I found those cast in the production to be well-suited for their characters, albeit somewhat lacking in the delivery of their lines, and the chemistry between those onstage to be vaguely awkward.

David Johnson, tasked with the role of the man accused of the crime, Leonard Vole, rendered the portrayal in the film with believability. What was disappointing was how watered-down his part became in comparison to the film and how little he seemed to speak leading into the second act.

Caleb Norris was suitable for the role of Mayhew, the defendant’s counsel, and seemed to lead the pace of the production from his first appearance onstage. Although none of the cast was particularly bad, the bungling and stalling of lines was noticeable and detracted from the tension, which adds to the excitement of the story.

The Denton Community Theatre’s production of “Witness for the Prosection,” running until Sept. 20 is worth viewing, even if it’s primarily an effort to support local artistic programs and productions.

See the play, then watch the film. It guarantees an appreciation for the courtroom dramas of yesteryear.

Featured Image: Courtesy | Denton Community Theatre

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