Courtroom Foul 

Agatha Christie thriller opens

Like a tightly woven tapestry, Agatha Christie's Witness for the Prosecution weaves multiple threads of murder, lies, jealousy and fear into a gripping tale, now being told on stage in the CAN-ACT production at Nampa's Karcher Mall.

Camilla S. Boylan makes her local directing debut with a well-paced show that keeps the audience in watchful suspense right to the unexpected ending. It seems like a simple case. A young, unemployed man with more charm than brains befriends a wealthy, elderly single woman, who lives alone with eight cats and a housekeeper. When the woman is murdered, the law looks to the most likely suspect, and Leonard Vole finds himself on trial. Jason Freed is superb as the earnestly innocent Vole, who, though nervous and awkward in his dangerous situation, has a sincere up-front quality that is endearing.

His lawyer, Wilfrid Robarts, is portrayed with thoughtful power by Randall Webster, who is lean, sly, observant and has a flair for histrionics in the courtroom. Vole is confident his devoted wife, Romaine, will provide his alibi, but when she arrives at Robarts' office, she proves to be an enigma. She is slim, stylish but icy and displays a haughty, secretive nature. Her large expressive eyes sparkle with secrets. Leah Reynolds gives a stunning performance as the German woman whose loyalty and gratitude seem to have definite boundaries. Reynolds also manages to transmit a strange, seething malevolence to her character that mesmerizes the audience.

Once in the courtroom, the battle to save Vole begins, and Dominic Iaderosa is the distinguished judge, a compassionate, reasonable man with an expert grasp of legal precedents. The prosecuting attorney is played by Barb Brookshire, with a logical, but too gentle manner. She is so soft spoken and ladylike that the audience is sure the wily Robarts will get the best of her, but she grows stronger in her cross examination. Helping to keep order in the court is the fierce Sharona Dringle as bailiff, who looks ready to quell any man or woman who gets out of line.

The Scottish housekeeper, Janet McKenzie, is portrayed with just a hint of snippy spunk, even besting Webster's well-laid traps during her testimony. Lora Volkert's performance as Dr. Wyatt is controlled and emotionless, but displays an unexpected nervousness, surprising in a doctor who should be used to courtroom appearances. Scott McLaughlin is the rumpled and hostile Detective Hearne, and LaReesa Rose-Samuels is bubbly and sexy as the young girl.

The lawyer's staff, led by his associate, the bespectacled and trusting Rodney Horn, is well balanced by the stern, businesslike Jodi Perry, and the adorably flirtatious and coy secretary, Erin McLaughlin.

The major problem with this production is a technical one. With the audience close enough to reach out and touch the actors on stage, it is hard to play tricks or pull off surprises, and this show is loaded with surprises.

Witness for the Prosecution, by Agatha Christie and directed for CAN-ACT by Camilla Boylan. Presented by CAN-ACT Theater, upstairs at Karcher Mall, Nampa. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through April 1; 7 p.m. Thursday, March 30. Matinee at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 25. Tickets $7 on Thursday and matinee; $8 on Fridays and Saturdays. For reservations call 442-0676 or visit www.can-act.org.

Questions? Comments? E-mail arts@boiseweekly.com.

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