Witness for the Prosecution
By Agatha Christie
Haifa Municipal Theater and HaSifriya
Ramat Gan Theater
Witness for the Prosecution, a 1953 courtroom drama based on a short story by Agatha Christie, is enriched by many intriguing "whodunnit" twists and turns of plot. It covers the trial of Leonard, an unemployed mechanic accused of murdering a rich old woman who has bequeathed him a large fortune. His cool calculating German wife, Romaine, is a controversial witness responsible for the surprise, if macabre, ending to the play.
Performed by a mixed Haifa and Ramat Gan cast and directed by Mitko Buzkov, the play is a riveting study of British High Court procedure.
The leading trial figure is the defense lawyer, Sir Wilfred Roberts, a mercurial, quizzical, sarcastic and subtle character played by Dudu Niv with electrifying, if at times, overheated energy. Kubi Livneh is the naive, weak-willed accused. He is partnered by Romaine, played by Anat Zamshteigmann, a close enough look-alike of Marlene Dietrich (who played the part of Romaine in the original film). In the role of Mrs. Mackenzie, the murdered woman's irritable Scottish housekeeper, Dawn Nadell brought down the house with a performance that was as genuine as it was hilarious. Anna Dovrobitski, in a lesser role as the wild woman with the incriminating letter, gave a rousing performance too.
A stately, imposing set for the Court of Justice, was however, robbed of its full theatrical impact by the drab costumes of the court personnel. The absence of bewigged advocates and a richly-robed judge in the English court tradition, visually cast a cloud over a cluster of outstanding performances.