The audience thoroughly enjoyed itself on opening night with gales of laughter filling the Pavilion Theatre. Only the British do bedroom farce with that certain touch and this script is a wonderful example of the art of adding confusion to confusion in a seemingly logical way. Will it be possible to untie all the knots by the end of the play or will more be tied?
The play opens in the honeymoon suite of a hotel where the bridegroom wakes on his wedding morning, with his fiancée about to arrive any moment, and finds an unknown, very attractive girl in bed beside him. His best man arrives, his fiancée arrives, the girl is hidden in the bathroom pretending to be the best man’s girlfriend, the best man’s real girlfriend has to be kept ignorant of the fact and the chambermaid is coerced into being everyone’s girlfriend. By interval when the bride’s mother arrives chaos has ensued which only escalates in Act Two.
Jeffery Archer’s THE ACCUSED is a courtroom drama with a difference, as the audience is the jury. This final play for Castle Hill Players 2016 season is a fitting end to a very successful, enjoyable and varied 50th anniversary seaon.
Dr. Patrick Sherwood, played in the original production at Windsor in 2000 by Jeffery Archer, stands trial accused of poisoning his wife in this enthralling courtroom drama set in the Old Bailey. Once the audience has made its decision the play continues – with one of two different endings, depending on its verdict. It is only at this time that we discover the verdict.
The evidence is presented to the jury by two of Britain’s best barristers, highly experienced, and entirely loathsome of each other.
Sandy Velini as Antonia Kersley QC and Matt Tredinnick as Sir James Barrington QC are the two stand out performances as they attempt to win the audience/the jury over with each witticism and barb.
The clever script slowly reveals clues about the murder having the audience believe one thing only to be convinced of a different truth when another witness takes the stand.
Jason Spindlow as the accused Patrick Sherwood bides his time in the dock till getting his say in the last act. Is he the grieving husband or the cunning murderer?!
His supposed lover Jennifer Mitchell, played by Ellen Northcott, is another contradictory character.
The witnesses are all colorful characters played by a strong supporting cast. Ken Fletcher plays the scientific expert Professor Alistair Forsyth, Sumesh Kannanmasseril is Masoud Hussein the pharmacist, Dennis Channells plays the porter Albert Webster, and David Hill is Detective Chief Inspector Payne. As Mr Justice Cartwright, Paul Houchin seems like he may have been sitting on the bench all his life. The jury bailiff (Alan Long)and guard (Ron Parnell) and assistants to the barristers, played by Sarah Sparke and David Allsopp, all add authenticity to the play.
The director Bernard Teuben draws the cast together to provide the audience with a humorous and intriguing evening. I am not going to reveal the opening night audience’s decision – go and decide for yourself! I am very tempted to go back in the hope of seeing the alternative ending.
THE ACCUSED is playing the Pavilion Theatre Castle Hill until Saturday 10th December. Performance times – Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8.15 pm and Sundays at 4.30 pm.