Review / Strong production makes for a positive ‘Verdict’

“Verdict” by Agatha Christie, directed by Jon Elphick. At Belconnen Theatre to June 10. Reviewed by LEN POWER

Lisa played by Monique Dyson, Karl played by Paul Jackson and Doctor Stoner played by Garry Robinson. Photo by Andrew Wallace

THERE are no guesses who the murderer is in Agatha Christie’s “Verdict”.

The audience witnesses the killing onstage, but the twists and turns of the plot will surprise anyway.  First performed in England in 1958, the play is more of a melodrama than a murder mystery.  It wasn’t a success in London’s West End at the time but the play continues to be performed around the world.

Refugees, Prof Karl Hendryk and his invalid wife, Anya, are living at a university in England.  Her cousin and close friend, Lisa Koletzky, has moved in with them to care for Anya and to manage the professor’s home.  Lisa has suppressed feelings for the professor and the situation is aggravated by a rich and spoiled young student determined to win the affections of the professor.

Director Jon Elphick’s  strong cast of 10 presents well-developed characterisations in a play where the psychology of the individuals is important.

Paul Jackson is especially effective as the professor, maintaining a credible accent throughout the show as well. Nikki-Lynne Hunter shines as his invalid wife and Monique Dyson as Lisa gives a moving performance of a woman in love but doing “the right thing”.

Kirsten Doyle plays a very believable spoiled young student, Helen, and there is nice support in the smaller roles from David Henderson, Garry Robinson, Jason Morton, Kim Wilson and David Evans. Cheryl Browne as the thieving housekeeper, Mrs Roper, is a delight.

At the matinee I attended, it was pleasing to see the house was almost full and the audience was obviously having a good time.

This is one of Tempo’s strongest productions and a good opportunity to see one of Agatha Christie’s more unusual plays.

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