What: Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie
When: July 4 to August 10, 2024
Where: Theatre on the Bay, Camps Bay
Bookings: Webtickets
Director: Alan Swerdlow Cast: The cast includes Graham Hopkins, Sharon Spiegel-Wagner, Mike Huff, Craig Jackson, Peter Terry, Dianne Simpson, Brett Krüger, Micah Stojakovic, Jordan Soares, Matthew Lotter, Tjaart Van Der Walt and Léa Blerk    

Agatha Christie’s’ play, Witness for the Prosecution, on at Theatre on the Bay is sheer escapism and entertainment, a wonderful diversion from winter in Cape Town. The season wraps up on until August 10. Under Alan Swerdlow’s fine direction, we are transported into the sumptuous courtroom as we see Leonard Vole, the accused go on trial for murder. Nadine Minaar’s set design evokes the pomp and ceremony of the predominant patriarchy of British judiciary. They are stuffy and proper and this is heightened by big imposing furniture. The judge played deliciously by Peter Terry gazes down from the lofty height of the Bench.

The intense courtroom drama, adapted by Agatha Christie from her 1925 short story, Traitor’s Hands, opened in London in 1953. The play differs from the film versions. I have seen the 1957 film, directed by Billy Wilder and the 1982 remake, directed by Alan Gibson. It is wonderful to see the play staged in Cape Town. There are signature Agatha Christie twists and a sting in the surprise ending. If you haven’t seen the play and films, I would suggest that you don’t. Please do not reveal the ending to others. But even if one does know how it ends, the play is packed with Agatha Christie’s brilliant writing – oozing with biting sarcasm and wit.

The accomplished cast is led by Graham Hopkins who nails it as Sir Wilfred Robarts, QC. Sharon Spiegel-Wagner delivers a fine performance as Romaine – the wife of Leonard Vole. This is the professional debut production for Brett Krüger, playing Leonard Vole who has a penchant for older women. Krüger and Spiegel-Wagner evoke the transactional nature of the couple. In marrying Romaine, Leonard Vole gave her a ticket out of post war Berlin. Will she come through for him in the trial? Watch and see. Krüger’s accent needs work but he adroitly teases out the nuances of the scheming Leonard. In the male dominated world of Witness for the Prosecution, I loved Dianne Simpson in her different roles. Her accent and characterisation is hilarious.

I would have liked the shifting of set and props to have been on a revolve. There is a lot of action as stage hands switch everything around. 

It is a treat to see this Agatha Christie classic get the full production treatment – costumes (Sarah Roberts) and lighting (Denis Hutchinson), with a large cast. A shout-out to Alistair Pringle for the fabulous wigs- charachters in their own right. Bravo to team Witness for The Prosecution for bringing us this big production to Cape Town.