The Group Rep has a long and glorious history of presenting shows in the highest of theatrical quality, proving time and again the truth which is it is the quality of the performance and not the size of the venue that matters most. The Group Rep consistently delivers, but with its current offering of Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution, it has set an even higher standard of excellence.
The story, set in post-World War Two England, begins in the Chambers of a notable Barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts, QC where he meets a man, Leonard, who is deeply concerned that he may be accused of murder. The conversation between learned Counsel and his soon to be client is brilliantly portrayed and very well known to anyone who has ever practiced criminal law. I say this with the utmost of authority. Leonard reveals himself as exactly the kind of man who no father would want anywhere his daughter. He is in a word seemingly a true loser. Yet Sir Wilfrid Robarts, QC is very intrigued by the man and his troubles and soon Leonard’s worst fears come to fruition as Inspector Hearns of Scotland Yard arrives and takes Leonard into custody.
The story moves to the courtroom at Old Bailey in London. The principal characters are Barrister Robarts and the prosecutor Mr. Myers, QC and the judge Mr. Justice Wainwright. It was extremely well played out on every level. My son joined me for this show. I invited him because he is a law student and I his dad am a former trial lawyer. We concurred that every significant element was masterfully and correctly portrayed and that made the show just that much more riveting and enjoyable.
How does the trial turn out? What surprises happen in the most unusual way? Did anyone use the line “If it doesn’t fit you must acquit?” Well nothing was borrowed from the O.J. trial and the rest of it you will have to see for yourself. I will only say that the final resolution in the matter is by far one of the most compelling and well-presented dramatic twists ever to hit the stage.
The acting was flawless with Larry Eisenberg a clearly gifted Sir Wilfrid Robarts, Lloyd Pedersen a captivating Justice Wainwright and Chris Winfield a totally believable Prosecutor. Salome Jens was thoroughly compelling as the dark and evil Romaine and there couldn’t be a better Leonard than Patrick Skelton. In fact the entire cast was simply five-star throughout.
If you can only be entertained by wildly bizarre musicals such as Les Miserable where fighting men are portrayed singing and dancing in the middle of a fire fight then the Group Rep’s presentation of Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution might not be for you. But for sane and intelligent theatre-goers I submit that the very best show in town right now is Witness for the Prosecution at the Lonny Chapman Theatre. Now, I rest my case.
Witness for the Prosecution runs now through March 12th 2017 at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood, California. Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Reservations and ticketing are available online or by calling 818-763-5990.
Photos by Troy Whitaker – Top photo: Larry Eisenberg, Michele Schultz, Salome Jens
Ron Irwin was born in Chicago, Illinois a long time ago. He served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, became a trial lawyer, TV and radio host, CEO of a public company and once held an Emmy. He never won an Emmy he just held one. Ron has written and published twelve books. His most important book to date is “Live, Die, Live Again” in which Ron tells of his early life and his unexpected and very temporary death in 2012. That experience dramatically refocused his life and within the pages of that book Ron reveals how he achieved a much healthier life, ridding himself of Diabetes, Cancer and Heart Failure. Now Ron enjoys writing about many things including health topics, travel [he has circled the globe several times], adventure, culinary experiences and the world of performing art. Ron’s motto is “Live better, live longer and live stronger because it feels great and annoys others.” Contact the author.