Sunday, September 30, 2012

Genesius' 'Witness for the Prosecution' is a guilty pleasure

By Cheryl Thornburg

Genesius Theatre's current production "Witness For rhe Prosecution" is full of all the twists, turns and red herrings that you would expect from an Agatha Christie classic.
Set in a lawyer's office and the courtroom, we never meet the victim, Emily French, a wealthy older woman who was murdered in her home.
The accused, Leonard Vole, a younger man who befriended her, seeks advice from seasoned attorney, Sir Wildred Robarts, who is known for his skill in the courtroom.
Jon Browning, who has been featured in many local musicals, gets to show his acting chops in this thriller, where his life is on the line. Browning is spot-on throughout whether being earnest or angry or confused when his own wife betrays him on the stand.
Theater veteran, J. Nathan Oswell Plays the sly Sir Robarts with great timing and delivery, making me suspect that he was a lawyer in a former life.
Romaine Vole, Leonard's wife, is played with a cool sensuality by Julia Elberfeld. She commands the stage and keeps the audience guessing about what she is up to.
Heading up the prosecution is Mr. Myers played with skill by Stan Durlak as he verbally spars with Oswell in a classic courtroom rivalry.
Greg Harwell lords it over the proceedings as Mr. Justice  Wainwright, perched above everyone during the trial. Harwell's judge is fun to watch as he sits with amusement as the lawyers battle.
Christine Cieplinski plays Janet Mackenzie, the longtime housekeeper who claims to have heard Vole talking with the victim just before she was killed. Cieplinski gives a dynamite performance as this sometimes belligerant witness who might have her own reasons for wanting Emily French dead.
There are solid performances all around from Paul Delfin as Mr. Mayhew, Vole's original solicitor; Heidi Carletti as Greta, Sir Robarts' assistant; Luis Pagan-Anderson as Carter, a clerk; Kyle Felttenberger, as Inspector Hearne, Randy Gerber as Dr. Wyatt; Brian McMinimee as Officer Clegg; Tamara Wright as Clerk of Court and Heather Troxell as a young woman.
Director by Marjory Ewald has chosen her actors carefully and has guided them to slowly let Christie's fascinating characters unfold.
The play is fairly long and there are two intermissions. It is well worth the time to discover the Christie classic for the first time or enjoy it all over again.
“Witness For The Prosecution” continues through Oct.7 at Genesius Theatre, 153 Walnut St. (10th and Walnut streets) in Reading. To purchase tickets with all major credit cards and get more information please visit the website at or call 610-373-9500 to purchase tickets with credit cards only.
For more information contact the theater at 610-371-8151. Genesius Theatre is handicap accessible and there is free parking next to the theater (limited spaces available).


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