The audience is steeled for excitement from the word go, when greeted by who can only described as a ‘Bobby’ in his full cape and helmet regalia, ‘Evening ladies’, he nods at the Hall’s doors, ‘Have you been summoned to the court?’. This style of totally immersive theatre continues with a cockney, pencil-licking journo that hounds you at the door with his flip pad and flash bulb, before you are efficiently ushered by secretarial staff with their spectacles and full skirts, through to the court-like oval galleries which provide the intense, 360 degree experience. The audience plays a silent but crucial role of the jury, the play engaging both our curiosities and our emotions in a classic whodunit plot.
This innovation is equally matched in the play’s attentiveness to detail and a vintage aesthetic than runs deeper than just the emerald lawyer’s desk lamps; the hems and haws of the archaic barristers and their stern acclamations, breathing life into a relic of another century.
In true Christie, Cluedo style, the characters are colourful, complex and beguiling. Our hearts soften towards the man standing accused, Leonard Vole, played by Niall Costigan to be charming, flustered and suitably beige. Rachel Logan proves with her impressive emotion and evocation, to be perhaps the stand out star, playing German ice queen Romaine impeccably.
Having not yet received any summons for actual jury duty, my experience of it was rather positive. As for the jury’s verdict; Agatha Christie would turn in her grave if we previewed the ending! The play offers a spine tingling whodunit plot, is oozing with drama and red herrings , so accept your court summons while you can as this production closes at Leeds Civic Hall on 30 August.
Tickets are available from Leeds Grand Theatre Box Office www.leedsgrandtheatre.com / 0844 848 2700