An Agatha Christie play is a safe choice for a theater — people will always come out for her work because they know what they’ll get. Well-written mystery, some sort of twist, usually a murder at some point or another.
The trick is putting on a Christie show in such a way that it doesn’t seem rote — theater groups have to bring something to the table that sets their Christie apart from others, or people will leave not being able to distinguish this production from the countless others they’ve seen over the years.
Home Made Theater’s “Witness for the Prosecution” is a fairly tame version of the show, yet with some definite high points. It’s worth seeing (especially so for people who aren’t familiar with the production.)
‘Witness For The Prosecution’
WHERE: Home Made Theater, Spa Little Theater, Saratoga Spa State Park
WHEN: Through February 23
HOW MUCH: $23/$26
MORE INFO: 587-4427, www.homemadetheater.org
Leonard Vole (Jonathan Hefter) comes to the office of Sir Wilfred Robards (Victor Cahn) looking for representation. All signs point to the fact that he’s about to be accused of murdering an older woman he was friends with. His only alibi is his wife, Romaine (Devra Cohen-Tigör), who he says is devoted to him and will testify he was home at the time of the murder. However, it becomes clear almost immediately to the defense team that Romaine will be their biggest problem in proving Vole’s innocence.
Hefter made intelligent choices with his portrayal of Leonard Vole; you were never quite sure of his guilt or innocence (and the show wouldn’t work if you knew, going into it, whether or not he was a murderer.)
Cahn’s Robards was the rock of the show. He didn’t have much to play with, but he did well providing the sensibility at the heart of the courtroom. A very special mention to Robin Leary as Miss Myers, the prosecutor. The role was written for a male and she performed it so admirably I think Christie herself would have applauded the change. However, it was Devra Cohen-Tigör as Romaine who truly stole the show — from her gorgeous costumes to her icy German accent and haughty glare. The minute she came onstage, you knew who the true star was in this production. She took a safe show and elevated every scene she was in, a sign of a great actress.
The set (designed by Mary Fran Hughes) was gorgeous and swiveled neatly between an office and a courtroom. But the set transitions were uncomfortably long and left the audience waiting for quite some time. The pacing was also off for the production — it seemed much longer than it was because of dead air and timing issues. One can hope this (along with some dropped lines and accents which disappeared and reappeared throughout scenes) were only a function of this being opening night, and things will smooth out as the run progresses.