Rough justice

Date 10th April 2014
Society Leighton Buzzard Drama Group
Venue Leighton Buzzard Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Jo Taylor

Report

Author: Nova Horley

A gripping play, acted out in a very good set that was striking and well-configured.  I particularly liked the nicely positioned and lit insignia above the Judge’s chair, it gave the whole set a certain gravitas that suited the play.

It seemed a little strange that we, the audience, were treated as the jury, but it made me feel an integral part of the proceedings, and I found I was paying even more attention than usual, just in case I missed a vital clue!

The introductory music was good, it really set the feel of a courtroom and the serious charge that was being levied against the defendant.

I thought that overall the female cast members outdid the male members – there was some very good and believable characterisations from the two main protagonists.

We had Olivia Davies as the very acutely aware prosecutor, she gave great depth and feeling to her part, twisting and turning and trying to confuse the defendant and get to the truth.  I was very impressed with the reality she injected into Margaret Caseley QC, an excellent portrayal.

Emma Stone played Jean Highwood, wife of the defendant, who it eventually turned out was the guilty party – a very well-studied character, that Emma maintained throughout – giving us good contrasts in Jean’s feelings, which lightened the ambience, as it was necessarily a rather solid and dour piece, so it was good to have the two females really lifting it.

The Judge was a nice part for Ann Kempster to play – there were wry asides, and very forceful bringing to order for the defendant and also the prosecutor. Ann created a different dimension to the other people in Court, which gave the play additional contrasts.

I was a little disappointed with Mark Croft as James Highwood – there appeared to be no expression from him in the first part of the evidence – I felt that even if the part called for him being in control, he would have shown some sort of emotion – which made the character rather one-dimensional.  However, as things started getting worse for him in court, Mark grew into the part, and showed us the tormented man inside the outer calmer person.  I would have liked to have seen just a tad more passion.  However, there were times when he was getting upset that the words suffered a little, and became indistinct, so we perhaps missed something important.

I thought Bob Jones created a very nice character as Jeremy Ackroyd, James solicitor, who was trying to inject some sense and understanding of the proceedings into his client.  I felt that at times he was searching for the words, which inevitably dragged the pace slightly, but I liked the way he kept Jeremy on song the whole way through, as I watch actors when they are not the centre of attention, and Bob certainly maintained his acting well throughout.

The three remaining cast members, Ben Clarke as the Policeman, giving evidence for the first time, Lorna Daggett as the Doctor giving professional evidence and Steve Martin as the Doctor who notified the death, all gave good clear evidence, without being overly confrontational or controversial.

There were a couple of places, particularly one occasion in the holding cell, when it was not clear whether the pauses were for effect or because someone had momentarily misplaced their words – I think the latter was the case, as everything dropped and it took a while to get the level up again.

The outburst from Jean at the end of Act 1, from the public gallery was very nicely achieved, and certainly startled us all.

The holding cell stage right was a good way of accommodating a separate set, and the starkness of it helped to create the feeling of despair.

The audience were discussing the verdict possibilities during the interval – which was interesting, as obviously they did not know the whole story at that point.  I enjoyed the play very much, though it lacked a little emotion and pace in some parts, but the twists and turns of the writing kept the interest going.  Excellent performances from Olivia and Emma.

I would like to thank LBDG for their hospitality, I enjoyed meeting the front of house staff and Lauren, and they looked after me very well.