“Witness for the Prosecution” ends with a bang


Kirsten Wiltjer

The Ventura High School Drama Department performs their rendition of Agatha Christie's "Witness for the Prosecution." Credit: Kirsten Wiltjer/The Foothill Dragon Press
The Ventura High School Drama Department performs their rendition of Agatha Christie’s “Witness for the Prosecution.” Credit: Kirsten Wiltjer/The Foothill Dragon Press

A middle aged woman, Emily French, lays cold on the bedroom floor. She was attacked from behind and impaled below her left ear.

Ventura High School’s rendition of Agatha Christie’s “Witness for the Prosecution” revolves around this cruel murder. Alternating between scenes in Sir Wilfred’s chambers and the courtroom, the play drags on through the wordy dialogue and search for truth in the criminal accusations against Leonard Vole.

The play began and continued slowly until the climatic ending which brought the plotline, finally, full circle.

The mystery is based on the attempts of Leonard Vole, played by Seryozha LaPorte, to clear his name from the killing of Emily French.

His budding “friendship” with the old woman and her obvious riches are clear evidence of his guilt. Yet he has a supposed alibi at 9:25 PM, at home with his wife. He claims it can be confirmed by her.

LaPorte plays confused innocence marvelously and his witty remarks about his wife and French give humor to the otherwise lengthy descriptions in his narrative.

After the police come to arrest Vole, his wife Romaine, played by Darien Bird, comes to Sir Wilfred’s chambers to confirm his presence at home at the set time. She instead twists the plot into an expected way by making herself seem at fault with her short and ambiguous responses.

She makes his alibi questionable by asking if his acquittal would be certain if she agreed he was with her at 9:25 PM. The play continues in this manner, with Romaine making the case complex and confusing. She projects a disinterest in her husband but also a sly want for his freedom.

Bird’s cold demeanor makes the audience question her motives. She has an air about her that seems to express that she never really loved her husband.

The turning point in the case is when an unknown woman comes to Sir Wilfred’s chambers and delivers letters in which Vole’s innocence can be proven. The case seems to be closed and ready for court the following day. At this point in the play, I was sure I knew the true identity of the killer.

The last scene of the play takes place in court after the decision of Leonard innocence or guilt is finalized.

The following, surprising and unexpected twist ending makes the dragging play worthwhile. It proves my and many other audience member’s vast miscalculation in who the real murderer was.

What can be perceived as a simple case of a femme fatale and her victims evolves into something entirely different.

A mature audience is requested because of the wordy dialogues and witty banter; nevertheless, the play’s pace was slower. Overall, the acting was superb, the accents believable and the end fantastic.

The interactive side of the play was additionally exciting for spectators.

“Witness for the Prosecution” is an engaging play of betrayal, adultery and unrequited love. The play was a slowly ripening apple, which finally fell from the tree with the exhilarating, well kept-secret of an ending.

The play will continue to run this week beginning Thursday at 7:00 PM. The last showing will be on Saturday at 7:00 PM as well.

What do you think?