Have you ever sat in on a court case where a man is on trial for murder, and if found guilty, will be sentenced to death? A situation where you have no idea whether the man is innocent or guilty and who else may have been involved. An instance where all you can do is sit there, patiently waiting, and offering your best guess as to what really had happened when in reality, you do not have the slightest clue. I had the privilege of watching Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie at the London County Hall; an actual courtroom. I was able to sit directly next to the stage, and it was one of the most immersive experiences of my life. It felt as though I was a part of this trial, as I was right there, next to all the actors (although in this case, they did not feel as such). I was able to catch every single one of their facial expressions; lip twitches, frowns, even tears, something you could not experience in a dark theatre, with one thousand seats. It felt as if both the defense and the prosecution were trying to convince me, specifically that the man on trial was either innocent or guilty. The immersive nature of the show itself allowed myself to give every ounce of my attention to every nuance and every little detail on the stage.
The nature of Agatha Christie’s stories is that they are meant to deceive you and keep you mesmerized by having you guess as to who is responsible for committing the crime. This play did not fall short of these expectations. The fact that I had no idea what the ending would be, kept me engaged. It kept me curious in my desire to get my answer. Deception can keep entire audiences involved in the show, because the audience want to see if their guesses were correct all along or if something else happens entirely. The fact that the show was played in an actual courtroom and not a traditional theatre gave the play a certain authenticity that you would not have gotten otherwise. The Guardian mentioned that “the play’s appeal lies not just in its mystery but in its courtroom formality.” This review supports the fact this play wasn’t impressive due to the fantastic acting and the underlying mystery, but also on the fact that the courtroom, which in itself is a very theatrical event, allowed for a complete show experience. I walked out of the theatre with my jaw-dropped, in absolute shock as to how it had ended, and I attribute that to not only the plot, but also the way the plot was presented to me.
Theatre is supposed to keep you entertained, and always keep you wanting more. It should have moments that just make you say, “Wow. I can’t believe that.” Witness for the Prosecution, at the London County Hall allowed me to have a continuous, two and a half hour ‘wow’ moment that escalated to immeasurable heights right as it ended, because after waiting for that long for my answer, I had finally received it. In such a spectacular way no less. If you are reading this, and are in London in the near future, make it your priority to see this production.