Review: CNY Playhouse’s ‘Witness for the Prosecution’

On Friday evening, I had the opportunity to attend the opening night performance at The Central New York Playhouse’s fall production of Agatha Christie’s drama, “Witness For The Prosecution.” CNY Playhouse has really come into its own and this show highlights their strengths. This theater seems made for this type of intimate show. Short of crowd participation, I felt fully involved.

cny-playhouse-witness-for-the-prosecution-2This is a gripping show about a murder trial. The show centers around Leonard Vole (Daryl Acevedo), who is on trial for committing murder and what happens in the courtroom through various witnesses that take the stand. There are many clever plot twists and interesting things that happen throughout the course of the show which fully immerses you. I have to admit that even though I had read about the play beforehand, I was still captivated and surprised throughout. As I sat down in the theater and saw the empty courtroom, my thoughts were that the theme would probably be boring and hard to follow. I take liberties here to assume that this is how most courtroom settings typically make one feel. As the play evolved, I knew exactly what was going on, but not until the final scene did everything come together in an eyebrow raising way. Think “Scream” and “The Usual Suspects.”

cny-playhouse-witness-for-the-prosecution-3The main defense attorney was played by Joe Pierce and he really was fun to watch. He had confidence and was comfortable with all that came his way. Leonard Vole was nervous, stupid, smart and difficult to trust. He was the perfect person to watch take the stand. Vole’s wife (Heather Roach) was cold at best and remained true to her character throughout.  Having been a juror and sat through a real trial, I felt this was very realistic. The judge (Albert Marshall) was on point and very convincing as he kept control over the court. The prosecuting attorney (Lauren Puente) was purely professional and strong. All the witnesses painted such a vivid visual of what happened the night of the murder. My favorite was to watch the defense react each time something new happened. I was a little bothered by the overuse of accents by several characters. The German accent was good, I felt the others weren’t necessary. That being said, this show relied heavily on quality acting and the actors delivered. Director Sharee Pierce selected an outstanding cast and helped the characters shine.

cny-playhouse-witness-for-the-prosecution-4The stage was simple and mostly took place in the courtroom. There was a smaller second stage of the office and the lighting brought us from one to the other.  I loved the Photoshopped picture of Joe Pierce with Ronald Reagan. In the courtroom the audience became the jury, which created a really cool dynamic for viewing this story. This set was crafted by Navroz Dabu. There was no music. Costumes were ideal but very simple. There were no real big laughs and there was no need for microphones and yet, this show was clever. I was fully engaged the entire time.

I truly had an entertaining night out at the theater. CNY Playhouse’s reputation has become consistently great as no matter what production they do, one is guaranteed an enjoyable theater experience. This show is definitely worth checking out, especially if you are a fan of mysteries. The plot engrossed me from the beginning as only a quality murder can. The questions of who was being sincere and where was the next twist going to pop up, kept myself and my guest on the edge of our seats. The show was a true two and a half hours and flew by quickly. I invite you to see for yourself, but that was my kind of curtain call! “Witness For The Prosecution” performances at The Central New York Playhouse continue through Saturday October 1. Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening performances start at 8pm, with two matinees on Sunday September 18, and Sunday September 25, 2pm. Tickets are $20 on Friday and Saturday evenings, $17 on Thursday and Sunday. Tickets can be purchased at www.cnyplayhouse.com or you can call their box office number at (315)-885-8960. Go see this performance, you won’t regret it.

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