Thrilling two-part drama about a man accused of killing his lover in order to inherit her wealth. Based on Agatha Christie's classic book.
Runtime: 60 minutes
The Witness for the Prosecution - Witness for the Prosecution (play) - Netflix
Witness for the Prosecution is a play adapted by Agatha Christie from her short story. The play opened in London on 28 October 1953 at the Winter Garden Theatre (although the first performance had been in Nottingham on 28 September). It was produced by Peter Saunders.
The Witness for the Prosecution - Reception of London production - Netflix
The Times of 29 October 1953 was enthusiastic in its praise stating, “The author has two ends in view, and she attains them both. She takes us now into the Old Bailey during an exciting trial for murder, now into chambers where the human reactions of the lawyers engaged in the case may be studied; and when the trial is over and there seems no more to be said, she swiftly ravels again the skein which the law has confidently unravelled and leaves herself with a denouement which is at once surprising and credible.” The reviewer outlined the basics of the plot, commenting that Patricia Jessel's performance in the dock was “cold-blooded” and that she “makes a clear-cut image of hatred releasing itself suddenly from inhibitions which have become intolerable” and that Derek Blomfield was “equally good”. The greatest praise was reserved for the climax: “Mrs Christie has by this time got the audience in her pocket. A timely intervention of a woman of the streets offering new evidence seems precisely what the trial needs and when it is resumed the evidence brings it triumphantly to a satisfying conclusion. It is only then that the accomplished thriller writer shows her real hand.” Ivor Brown of The Observer said in the issue of 1 November 1953 that the play had, “all the usual advantages of Counsel in conflict, agonised outbreak in the dock, and back-answers from the witness-box. To these are added a considerable and ingenious appendix; the jury's verdict is only the beginning of a story that has as many twists as a pigtail.” He summed up with a comment on the performance of Patricia Jessel who, “takes the title-part with cool efficiency. Whether she is snake in the grass or butterfly on the wheel playgoers must find out for themselves. There will be plenty doing that.” Philip Hope-Wallace in The Guardian's issue of 30 October 1953 said of the ending, "Justice has been done and has been seen to be done. We nod approvingly, at which moment Mrs Christie says in effect “Oh, so you thought that did you?” and with an unforeseen twist of the cards lets us see how wrong we were. This is satisfying, but it makes criticism almost impossible; first, one must not give away the clue and second, one must reconsider whether those witnesses who seemed the most plausible were not, in fact, less good players than those who seemed somehow not quite 'in character'". Nevertheless, Hope-Wallace did admit that the opening night was, “a great success” and stated that the play presented a, “well-made, humorous, exciting case”.