Witness for the Prosecution 

© Pamela Raith Photography

Witness for the Prosecution unfolds in the grand surroundings of London’s County Hall, a place so steeped in gravitas that even the statues seem to be whispering legal advice. Robed barristers stroll around the public areas before the play starts. (Spoiler: I don’t think they’re members of Lincoln’s Inn – there’s a chance they are actors!)

The awe-inspiring setting, with its dark wood panelling, lofty marble columns and air of solemn dignity is the perfect backdrop for Agatha Christie’s classic tale of murder and deceit. The plush red leather seats, originally designed for lengthy GLC debates, offer a comfortable perch from which to judge the defendant’s fate. The room is so authentic you half expect to be called for jury duty.

Witness for the Prosecution is a courtroom drama. A good one. The plot revolves around Leonard Vole, a man accused of murdering a wealthy older woman named Emily French. He is represented by Sir Wilfrid Robarts QC (no, that’s not a typo) and his solicitor, Mr Mayhew, while being prosecuted by the Old Bailey’s greatest prosecutor, Mr Myers.

Imagine the most flamboyant actors you’ve ever seen delivering hammed-up performances as the two barristers. They channel Rumpole’s old-fashioned charm with Harvey Specter’s cerebral sharpness. It’s tremendous fun as they grandstand, shout at witnesses, and object away. The second act is packed with plot twists and the last few minutes will have you gasping. There’s a reason Agatha Christie is the third most widely published author of all time, outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible.

George Jones’ portrayal of the defendant, Vole, swings between vulnerability and inscrutability, keeping you guessing about his innocence or guilt. His performance is matched by the formidable Meghan Treadway, whose femme fatale Romaine Vole manipulates the legal chess game that dominates the narrative.

Strategic lighting by Chris Davey casts long shadows and highlights the theatricality of the proceedings, while Mic Pool’s sound design weaves a subtle undercurrent of suspense through murmurs and echoes that resonate in the marble hall.

Witness for the Prosecution at County Hall is not just a play; it is an experience – an enthralling and entertaining blend of history, drama, and legal intrigue. Don’t just witness the production; feel it, in a venue as monumental and dramatic as the plot itself. It’s the best busman’s holiday you’ll ever take.

Witness for the Prosecution is playing at County Hall until March 2025.


© Marc Brenner

Hadestown won about a billion Tony’s on Broadway. I thought it would be spectacular. Unfortunately, so did the predominantly American audience who whooped and hollered their way through this cult-favourite show.

It’s a modern retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world that blends American folk music with New Orleans jazz traditions. Eurydice is seduced by Hades into selling her soul and going down into – you guessed it – Hadestown. Hades, to spite Persephone, with whom he’s having a major marital, won’t release Eurydice. So Orpheus travels to the underworld to rescue her. In the words of Elder Cunningham, it makes perfect sense.

The show is visually stunning. The soundtrack is gorgeous (I’ve been listening to it on repeat on Spotify). The lyrics are so clever; easily as good as Hamilton. But – and it’s a big but – the plot is slow and dull, and the acoustics in the theatre are not great (meaning you really have to focus to hear those wonderful lyrics). The first half is a bit of a slumberfest. It improved in the second half, and now I know the soundtrack (which I didn’t when I saw it), I think I’m going to try this show again. It’s a good production – genuinely very slick, with strong performances throughout – but you do need to listen to the soundtrack first to appreciate it fully.

Hadestown is playing at the Lyric Theatre until December 2024.

Guys & Dolls 

© Manuel Harlan

Prepare to be whisked away to the bustling, neon-lit streets of 1950s New York with the Bridge Theatre’s production of Guys & Dolls. It’s an immersive extravaganza that’ll have you rocking the boat and shouting for an encore.

The story starts with small-time gambler Nathan Detroit. His fiancée, Miss Adelaide, has been waiting for a wedding ring for 14 years, but Nathan’s only commitment is to his desperate search for a spot for his illegal dice game.

Enter Sky Masterson, the suave high-roller who accepts Nathan’s outrageous bet: he must take Sarah Brown, the strait-laced leader of the Save-a-Soul Mission, on a dinner date to Havana. Love, lies, passion and comedy ensue.

The staging is a marvel of modern theatre design. Bunny Christie’s set includes rising and falling platforms that reconfigure the space dynamically, placing the audience inches away from the performers. It brings the bustling, chaotic streets of New York City to life in a way that static sets simply cannot. The ushers, dressed as New York City cops, manoeuvre the standing audience around these platforms, making sure everyone gets a close-up view of the performances. There are also raised seats around the auditorium. I’ve seen this show from three different seats, and there’s not a bad view in the house.

Before the show starts, you’re already part of the world. Street vendors hawk pretzels, and Save-a-Soul Missionaries hand out leaflets. During the interval, the Hi-Hi Boys entertain with a few numbers, seamlessly blending into the second act. The immersive elements keep you engaged and on your toes – don’t be surprised if you find yourself with a front-row seat to Adelaide’s Hot Box performance or Sky’s Havana hijinks.

The performances are top-notch. Owain Arthur’s Nathan Detroit is a lovable scoundrel, balancing comedic timing with a touch of desperation. George Ioannides as Sky and Celinde Schoenmaker as Sarah bring sparkle and depth to their roles, their chemistry palpable as they navigate the choppy waters of love and morality. Their duet, ‘I’ve Never Been in Love Before’, is delivered with a smoothness that would make Sinatra proud. Understudy TJ Lloyds completely stole the show as Nicely-Nicely Johnson with his rousing rendition of ‘Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat’.

The choreography by Arlene Phillips and James Cousins displays precision and energy. From the sultry routines at the Hot Box to the high-energy Havana sequences, every dance number is a showstopper. The ensemble’s synchronicity is impeccable, each movement contributing to the storytelling without overshadowing the main action.

Tom Brady’s musical supervision ensures that Loesser’s iconic score is delivered with brilliance. The lush orchestration complements the vocal performances, and each musical number is treated with the reverence it deserves.

Guys & Dolls is a theatrical delight you cannot pass up. Nicholas Hytner’s direction, combined with exceptional performances, innovative staging and a superb musical score, makes this production a must-see. Whether you’re standing amid the action or seated with a prime view, the experience is immersive, exhilarating and unforgettable. Grab your hat and head to the Bridge Theatre for a night of musical magic. 

Guys & Dolls is playing at the Bridge Theatre until January 2025.