Review: The Verdict. (touring) Nottingham Theatre Royal

The Verdict at Theatre Royal Nottingham

An engaging courtroom drama

Based on Barry Reed’s 1980 bestselling novel, Margaret May Hobbs has adapted this dynamic courtroom drama with Middle Ground Theatre Company for the stage as it continues on its UK tour.

Instantly upon entry the audience is greeted by the stage divided in two, half well stocked Irish American bar, the other a shabby office with its occupant looking equally dishevelled as he potters around getting ready for the day.

The occupant in question is middle aged functioning alcoholic lawyer Frank Galvin played by Jason Merrells, most recently known for his performance in Happy Valley.

Frank is facing the biggest case of his career; suing St Catherine Laboure Hospital for medical malpractice after a mistake left a patient in a vegitative state. Her mother, played by Sarah Shelton, weaves a compelling sob story, pride radiating in her voice as she describes her young Debbie.

The soundscape is wonderfully vivid. We never see Debbie, but the background noise and Merrell’s acting in the hospital scenes creates a more emotive response in the audience than a visible hospital bed could.

In a convincing play filled with obstinate and opinionated characters, Frank faces numerous challenges bringing this case to trial in an attempt to find justice. Vincent Pirillo is lovely as exhausted mentor Moe Katz coaching Frank against the ruthless and duplicitous Concannon, the voice of the defence, played flawlessly by Nigel Barber. The rest of the cast – some of whom play multiple roles – are equally convincing, although Reanne Farley’s role as seductive waitress Donna St Laurent could be seen as rather reductive.

The casting is not without its flaws – one word that won’t spring to mind when looking at the line up is diversity.

Michael Lunney’s set and direction is fab; the second act centres on the courtroom itself with dialogue addressing the audience, encouraging you to deliberate your own verdict.

The pace could be picked up a bit, especially since scenes take a little long to transition. Plunging the stage into darkness each time to switch props cons us into thinking the interval has arrived making for some fidgety moments. Nonetheless, the cast keeps the audience on the edge of their seats out of anticipation rather than an eagerness to leave!

The Verdict is showing at Theatre Royal Nottingham until 25th February. Purchase tickets here:

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