Theatre Review: Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Jeffery Archer’s first play begins as a courtroom drama, but develops into much more.

Presented by St Jude’s Players
Reviewed 15 November 2019

Jeffery Archer’s first play begins as a courtroom drama, but develops into much more. Director Vicky Horwood has presented the court room well and the set, designed by Don Oakley, transfers well to the Metcalfe home allowing smooth changes. The first act is dry, as it needs to be, but remains interesting despite the legal jargon. The audience are advised that they are the jury and will be expected to deliver a verdict. Act Two gives more insight into the circumstances of the trial and allows us to see more of the characters’ background.

As Justice Tredwell. David Lockwood is solemn and controls the courtroom with the aid of the Court Usher played by Aslan Storm. Andrew Horwood is David Metcalfe QC, the accused, handling his own defence with Junior Counsel Mr Pierson (Adam Schultz) against the Crown Prosecutor Mr Anthony Blair-Booth QC (Brian Knott). Metcalfe and Blair-Booth are old adversaries and the animosity between them is well developed. There are a parade of believable witnesses; Dr Weeden (David Rapkin), Det Chief Inspector Travers (Andy Winwood), Mrs Rogers, the housekeeper (Julie Quick) and old friend Lionel Hamilton (John Matsen). They present conflicting views on the state of the Metcalfe marriage and the character of Metcalfe himself.

The step back in time to show the actual events that lead to the death of Lady Metcalfe allows us to meet the lady herself. Joanne St Clair is well cast as Metcalfe’s wife and the partnership between St Clair and Horwood is well formed and the relationship with their housekeeper is shown as complex. Is her testimony truth or only her point of view? Quick gives a strong performance. There are many good performances from this strong cast, in particular Knott, Matsen and Schultz.

Even the minor roles are handled well by Robert McCarthy, Eric Offler and Jan Rice, making this a strong production. The audience is requested not to discuss the trial or its outcome with anyone so I guess I am in contempt of court, but I won’t go so far as to tell you the outcome, you will have to see for yourself!

Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Twitter: @franeds

Venue: St Jude’s Hall, Brighton Road

Season: 14 – 23 Nov 2019

Duration: 2.5 hr

Tickets: $18 – $22

Bookings: stjudesplayers.asn.au Mob – 0436 262 628 Phone – 8296 2628

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