Theatre Review: The Accused – Pavilion Theatre: Castle Hill Players (until 10th December 2016)

The Accused. Courtesy of The Pavilion Theatre.

Written by Jeffrey Archer, The Accused is an edge-of-your-seat courtroom drama in which the audience are the jury. Directed by Bernard Teuben, we see a man accused of murdering his wife through poison and are presented with several witnesses who argue his guilt. An abrupt judge, two bickering barristers and a colourful cast of witnesses help to turn The Accused from a rather dry courtroom misadventure to a humorous who-done-it.

As the play opens the jury bailiff (Alan Long) informs we, the jury, of our role in the day’s proceedings. We are requested to ‘all rise’ for the judge, Mr Justice Cartwright (Paul Houchin) and are made privy to the long standing animosity of the two barristers. Antonia Kersley QC (Sandy Velini) represents The Crown and Sir James Barrington QC (Matt Tredinnick) represents the defendant, with their constant barrage of insults providing some much needed comic relief.

As the evidence was presented, I became convinced of Patrick Sherwood’s (Jason Spindlow) guilt. However, as the second half commenced I was less and less sure. Key witness testimony from Jennifer Mitchell (Ellen Northcott) was effective in planting the seed of doubt in my mind, as I’m sure was the intention. When it came time to vote, I followed my initial instincts – guilty as charged – but it seems the majority did not agree, and the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. Here in lies the true genius of The Accused. Depending on how the audience votes will determine the ending acted out. The ending I saw may not be the one someone else sees – it all depends on how you vote.

Velini and Tredinnick are exceptional as the warring barristers, their constant banter and momentum holds the play together. As the jury we were effectively integrated into the fabric of the performance and cheers rang out as the verdict was read. Feeling slightly robbed that he got off, I’m curious to know what the other ending would have been – I guess I’ll just have to go again.

line will enjoy performances at the Pavilion Theatre until December 10th. For tickets and more details, head to: http://paviliontheatre.org.au/