The Verdict

The Verdict, Middle Ground Theatre: Lighthouse, Poole. (Tusday 26th February 2019)

You can’t beat a good courtroom drama to ramp up dramatic tension on stage and The Verdict - best remembered for the 1982 film starring Paul Newman,  James Mason and Charlotte Rampling  is one of the best.

The movie directed by Sidney Lumet received five Oscar nominations and though it had a script adapted by David Mamet the power of Barry Reed’s original story shone through.

 Then, as now, in this first ever stage adaptation by Middle Ground Theatre you are invited to witness a white-knuckle ride as a down-at-heel small-time lawyer takes on the might, and corrupt tendencies, of the establishment in a medical negligence case.

Ian Kelsey is superb as booze-addled attorney Frank Galvin who refuses to be bought-off by lawyers and the Catholic Church who offer an out of court settlement to save the reputation of one of their hospitals.

Set in Boston, Massachusetts, some 40 years ago, it hinges on a clinical error that has left a young woman in an irreversible coma. Her family need help and, with the odds stacked against him, Frank decides to take the case through the courts in pursuit of justice.

It’s a powerful piece of theatre directed and designed by Michael Lunny and adapted for the stage by Margaret May Hobbs. A brilliant set and fine acting from a cast of seventeen actors make the very most of the story’s twists and turns as a shocking cover-up is exposed.

Moral dilemmas and actions of greed and self-interest are explored in this excellent drama about right and wrong, the abuse of power and one man’s personal journey to claw back the life he has come so close to squandering.

The Verdict is at Lighthouse, Poole, until Saturday 2nd March.

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2019