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Witness for the Prosecution
Albuquerque Little Theatre

Witness for the Prosecution

When I was in college, I usually read Agatha Christie between semesters. Her mysteries were gripping in a light-but-intricate manner. I wasn't expected to learn anything from her novels and they didn't dive very deep. Witness for the Prosecution at the Albuquerque Little Theater provides similar relief from demanding, emotional drama. After seeing a number of relatively serious plays in Albuquerque over the past few weeks, Witness for the Prosecution is a pleasant palate cleanser.

Christie's play was first performed in London in late 1953 to great praise. She adapted it from her short story of the same title. The murder mystery opened in New York the next year, also to success, winning two of its actors Tony Awards. A film version with Tyrone Power, Charles Laughton and Elsa Lancaster produced Academy Award nominations for Laughton and Lancaster. The play has a solid history, and it was also typically produced with the admonition, "Whatever you do ... don't tell the ending!" And so it is with the Albuquerque Little Theatre production.

Witness for the Prosecution exists for the ending. While this is true of most classic murder mysteries—and Christie is the classic of classics—Witness has a stronger ending than most in this genre. If you find yourself wondering why it's taking so long to get somewhere during the first act, the groundwork through the early court scenes is necessary to move the play to its big payoff.

The gist of the story is that Sir Wilfrid Robarts (George Williams), a London attorney, is defending Leonard Vole (Ryan Jason Cook) who has been charged with murdering an older lady, and friend, who had named him to receive the bulk of her wealth. Vole's wife Romaine (Cyd Schulte) plays a big role in the court's process of determining Vole's alibi. Beyond that, I can only say this is a terrific mystery. As with much of Christie's work, the details unfold with the intricacy of a fine old fashioned clock.

That clock-like intricacy requires ensemble acting. There are a couple of strong personalities in the play: attorney Robarts and wife Romaine. Williams and Schulte deliver these characters with color and energy without interfering with the tick-tick of the plot. Kudos to Director Peter Parkin for keeping his eye on the story.

The play has a excellent cast, which isn't a surprise. ALT has been on quite a roll this year. They've created a rich pool of actors to fill their large casts. Congrats to the entire technical staff and crew as well. Wonderful set, wonderful play.

Witness for the Prosecution, by Agatha Christie and directed by Peter Parkin, runs at the Albuquerque Little Theatre, 224 San Pasquale SW, through February 5. Performances run Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm, Sunday at 2 pm. General admission for adults is $22. For seniors 62 and up, $20. For students, $18, and children under 13 are $10. For reservations, call 505-242-4750, ex. 2, or purchase at the Theatre's website: albuquerquelittletheatre.org.

--Rob Spiegel



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