Yesterday I enjoyed another of London’s theatrical treats. Truth be told, I haven’t encountered much Agatha Christie before, apart from the odd episode of Poirot on TV, so when John suggested going to see one of her plays called Witness For The Prosecution I didn’t know what to expect. I met him up in Southwark yesterday afternoon, and quite to my surprise he walked me to an old London council building rather than a theatre. What I saw then amazed me: rather than being under your usual proscenium arch, the play was performed in the round, in an old courtroom. The audience was really drawn in to the action – about a man accused of murdering a wealthy old woman he’s been having an affair with in order to get her fortune.
The action took place entirely within the courtroom, so while this made the trial scenes feel very real, when the plot went outside the court case, the audience needed to use a bit of imagination. Nonetheless, the overall effect was really immersive, and the audience was really drawn into the action. I felt very caught up in what these solicitors were saying, and the fate of the guy on trial. It was a really effective, creative use of a space which, in a way, was built especially for dramas like that.
Thanks to my friend john I have had a great couple of days, going to The Globe on Saturday and then to see a quite wonderful piece of contemporary theatre yesterday. It made me think of my drama student friends from university: I could see Ricardio or Rockie directing a production like the one we saw yesterday. If you know where to look, the capital is a creative, inventive space, kind of like a vast university campus. After all, who but a contemporary arts student would think of using an old, probably victorian, courtroom as a theatrical space?