Middle Ground Theatre Company
Civic Theatre, Chelmsford
The plot for this play is simple. What makes the story intriguing, as with any piece of good writing, are the characters and how they deal with what is presented to them.
Frank Galvin (Clive Mantle) is an alcoholic lawyer whose career is shattered. His friend and mentor Moe Katz (Jack Shepherd) finds him a case which he knows will be settled out of court thus helping to raise Frank’s morale and earn him some money.
The case is a medical malpractice case. A young woman – Deborah Ann Doherty is left comatose after being deprived of oxygen during childbirth. The defendants are the Catholic Church and doctors Rexford Towler (Tom Roberts) and Daniel Crowley (Michael Lunny) who offer to settle out of court, as Moe predicted. Then Frank visits Deborah in hospital and something in him awakens, his old self, the fighter, and he is filled with desire to do the right thing for this woman regardless.
There are innumerable subtleties and nuances throughout this production. In particular, I liked the fact that Frank’s character is placed in context long before the house lights go down – those arriving at their seats being somewhat bemused to see someone crawling about the stage. The strong Boston Irish links emphasised using basic Gaelic and underlined by the traditional Irish music being the most obvious. There is humour in word and movement – tempered perfectly to the story.
The top Boston law firm employed by The Church is shown to be ruthless when we discover that barmaid Donna St Laurent (Cassie Bancroft), with whom Frank becomes involved, is in fact a struggling intern working for defence attorney J.Edward Concannon (Peter Harding).
The court proceedings that follow are an uneven affair. The defence has reputation and money behind it, the prosecution has nothing to lose – so much so that Frank goes head to head with Judge Eldredge Sweeney (Richard Sweeney) on more than one occasion.
It is often said that lawyers in court are mere actors, playing a part to sway a jury. This stage play brings home this truism as we the audience are the jury. When the verdict comes, it is delivered by the jury foreman (Alessia Gotti) from a seat in the auditorium.
This Middle Ground Theatre Production is an excellent adaptation of the book by Barry Reed, the cast of sixteen perfectly chosen. The Verdict runs at The Civic Theatre in Chelmsford until Saturday 8th April – click here for tickets.