The Verdict – Churchill Theatre, Bromley

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The Verdict is a compelling courtroom drama which has already made itself known as as a novel and also as an Oscar nominated film staring Paul Newman. Therefore the world premier stage adaptation had a lot to live up to and I was invited along to it’s press night at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley on Tuesday 30th January 2017 to review.

The show recently opened it national tour and features a host of well known actors including Clive Mantle (Casualty & Holby City) and Jack Shepherd (Wycliffe). The Verdict is an extremely powerful and emotive story by Barry Reed, which centres around Frank Galvin (Mantle). We are introduced to Galvin whilst walking into the auditorium, before the play has begun. A great way to grab the audiences’ attention! Galvin, a drunk lawyer is handed a medical case that nobody thinks he can win and the story develops from this.

In a series of scenes we see Galvin getting involved with the case of a young pregnant lady who had been left in a coma by doctors at a Catholic Church owned hospital in 1970’s America.

Galvin turns down an initial out of court settlement as he think he can get justice for the negligence that has taken place and turns to Jack Shepherd for help. For the majority of the first act Mantle takes ownership of the stage, although I felt on several occasions he was stubmling on his words, perhaps due to some nerves or too much emotion in certain parts. There were also a number of times where I thought he may have forgotten his lines due to awkward pauses in his dialogue. As with any gripping storyline, there are plenty of twists which alter the outcome of events.

The set itself is simple in design for act one. The audience see Galvin’s office and a bar, however it isn’t until act two that the set changes dramatically into a courtroom and stretches across the entire stage. I felt the staging in the first act may have been too basic and rather bland and uninviting, when compared to vast turn around in the interval to the courtroom.

With some unexpected humour from the judge (Richard Walsh) the courtroom scenes throughout act two build the tension and case of malpractice. With the production lasting nearly three hours, it is rather a long production and whilst it is understandable that much of the play is about building the story and ensuring everything is covered, I felt some scenes could have been condensed to bring the overall time down.

With a talented cast, an interesting and thought provoking story, The Verdict is a great courtroom drama that will have have the audience pondering on what the outcome of the case may be, especially with some added twists too! The production continues its run at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley until Saturday 4th February and then continues its UK tour.

3-stars

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