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.
Coming into my first year, the options for students interested in furthering their knowledge of drama and theatre were very limited. There were no classes available for first years. I decided that the best way to learn theatre was to continue being a part of it, and take on any opportunity I could to act. I didn’t get an opportunity to be in a show at Western until second semester of my second year, where I had a minor role. Finally, first semester of third year I took on the role of Malcolm, in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. This is where I found out, through fellow cast mates who did Destination Theatre, that there are other opportunities to educate myself on theatre and be a part of something as exciting as this. My theatre knowledge was limited to the several productions I had taken part in, in the past, but other than high school drama, I have rarely sat down and learned about what theatre actually means, and I haven’t had much opportunity to watch shows, and break them down in terms of how they were done. I figured I could finally take a course that will allow me to do so.
When I decided to take this course, I thought about the possible benefits I could get out of it and the list was endless. First of all, as mentioned before, it’s an opportunity to actually take a course on theatre and find out what it’s all about, in a classroom environment. Second, what better way to learn about something than actually experiencing it? This was an opportunity to be able to go to England, one of the world’s theatre capitals, and be able to watch a plethora of shows by the world’s best actors. An opportunity to be able to experience several workshops with popular actors and coaches, tour the city and actually experience the impact theatre has on the city, and finally, be able to digest and discuss what we had seen the previous night with a well-educated professor and a group of peers that have the same passion for theatre as myself. Furthermore, it was an opportunity to experience a certain culture and way of life that I have never been exposed to. I saw it as a way to be a part of something that I have never been a part of, and an experience that I can not only learn a lot from, but also find a great deal of enjoyment in. It’s always been a dream of mine to experience European culture, and this could not be a better way to do so.
Despite my excitement, there are several things that I am somewhat apprehensive about. As with any new adventure, you don’t know what to expect and it can be frightening taking on something by yourself, or with very few people you know. It is also frightening knowing that I am stepping out of my comfort zone for this new experience that I am hoping to get the most out of, but despite this, I am unclear as to what will happen because I’ve never done anything like this in the past. Regardless, I firmly believe that the joy and experience you get from doing something you’re not 100% sure of has to do with what you put in to it, and this is an experience of a lifetime that I am very excited to be a part of.