**** 4 Stars
“ A Slow burn but thrilling conclusion!”
The Verdict is the debut stage adaptation of the 1982 American legal drama film of the same name directed by Sidney Lumet and written by David Mamet from Barry Reed’s novel of the same name. It starred Paul Newman in the title role of Frank Galvin. Telling the story, of a down-on-his-luck alcoholic lawyer who accepts a medical malpractice case to improve his own situation, but discovers along the way that he is doing the right thing
This stage adaption is credited to the books writer Barry Reed and adapted by Margaret May Hobbs and follows closer to the book rather than the film script and that makes Act 1 a little sluggish, The set up and history of what brings the case of Deborah Ann Doherty vs St Catherine Laboure Hospital to the Count of Suffolk Court in Boston is laboured in an act that could easily be trimmed by 10 minutes.
Much of the content in act 1 delves into the American justice system and its corruption along with the prosecutions developing case, its also interesting the it’s the catholic church backing the defence case that adds a sinister dimension indeed.
Taking on the role of Frank Galvin is Ian Kelsey who is in fine form as the down on his luck lawyer who crutches on booze, although when Bishop Brophy (Richard Walsh) offers a $300,000 bribe to turn the case down, Kelsey is able to let Galvin’s sense of truth shine through and its wonderful to watch. Joining Kelsey is TV acting star Dennis Lill as Moe Katz the wise cracking Jewish father in law of Galvin who comes out of retirement to assist in the prosecution of the case. Dennis Lill turns in a shining performance that sparkles with comedy whit and is a joy to watch.
This is a all star cast with a 17 strong company performing a multitude of roles, special mention must go to Richard Walsh who not only performs the role of Bishop Brophy but delivers a stealthy turn as Judge Eldridge Sweeney, know as a defenders judge he at times begins trying the prosecutions case instead of Galvin and leads to some brilliant comedy asides that helps lift the darker moments of the play. Also worthy of credit is Holly Jackson Walters in the role of Natalie Stampanatto, the admissions nurse who is forced out of her profession but ultimately holds the key to the truth, her moment in the dock during Act 2 is a moment of expertly delivered performance that leaves you feeling the pain she has suffered in revisiting old wounds.
Act 2 is truly where this production shines with Michael Lunney’s design taking us right into the heart of the courtroom, Lunney also directs the production and achieves a great deal of detail from all the characters and keeps the twists and turns coming at a nice pace in Act 2. Mix this with Jeremy Barnaby’s evocative lighting design and Lynette Webster music and a sound design from White Tip Media and your getting a winning evening of court room drama, yes the verdict asks the question, What price the truth? well it’s a slow burn but ultimately leads to a thrilling conclusion so book those tickets now.
Middle Ground Theatre Company Presents “The Verdict”, King’s Theatre Edinburgh, Runs until Saturday 4th May, Then UK tour continues, for tickets go to: https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/verdict