Tag Archives: Simon Butteriss

Witness for the Prosecution

Witness for the Prosecution


London County Hall

Witness for the Prosecution

Witness for the Prosecution

London County Hall

Reviewed – 27th April 2022



“The courtroom setting is of course a highlight”


Witness For the Prosecution has been intriguing and entertaining tourists and Londoners alike since 2017, and I don’t see why it should stop any time soon.

Baby-faced Leonard Vole (Joshua Glenister) is being accused of murder, having been found in the wrong place at the wrong time, but despite his seemingly obvious innocence, the evidence is shaky. Will his open features and simple nature be enough to redeem him?

Agatha Christie does well to create this stuffy, old-boys’ club legal system full of lots of back-slapping middle-aged men. It feels almost timeless in that it could be 1850 just as easily as 1950. But in walks Leonard’s wife Romaine Vole (Lauren O’Neil) dressed all in black, and suddenly we’re in technicolour. The women are the flavour of this otherwise slightly musty courtroom drama, with Romaine leading the pack, feline and cryptic in beatnik beret and blood-red lipstick. But housekeeper Janet Mackenzie (Mandi Symonds) and even the hardly-seen jealous woman, and mysterious blond (Lily Blunsom-Washbrook) in the second half are a glorious disruption.

Where previous casts have chosen a slightly subtler route, this new production has opted for campy over-the-top histrionics which I think suits the echoey chamber and oft-nightmarish script perfectly. Leave the naturalism to the proscenium arches.
The courtroom setting is of course a highlight, the lofty ceilings and dark wood adding flair to what is otherwise a pretty conventional production. A select few are seated as the jury, and others are sat in the press gallery. The rest of us play a ghost audience to a murder trial that has happened many times before in this same space. It’s just unusual enough to appeal to the savvy theatre goer, and plenty accessible for the enthusiastic novice looking for a good story to get stuck into.

The production claims to be running only until September, but considering how long The Mousetrap has been going, I’d say there’s still a good appetite for Christie in the city, and Witness is a much snappier story in a far more engaging setting.


Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Ellie Kurttz


Witness for the Prosecution

London County Hall – currently booking until 25th September


Previous review of this show:
Witness For The Prosecution | ★★★★★ | September 2021


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Review of Quaint Honour – 4 Stars


Quaint Honour

Finborough Theatre

Reviewed – 30th October 2017



“a delightful piece of skilled writing that oozes pathos”


John Holmstrom was a radio announcer and playwright who used the pseudonym Roger Gellert. It was under this name that he wrote Quaint Honour which looked at homosexuality in an English Public School. Now playing at the Finborough Theatre it is presented for the first time since its world premiere in 1958 and coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 which partially decriminalised homosexuality in the UK.


Upon entering the compact theatre we are looking at what we learn to be a Housemaster’s study. In the opening scene Robert Hallowes, a housemaster in his fifties played by Simon Butteriss, is in conversation with Mungo Park a 17 year old Head of House about a forthcoming cricket match. We sense from these early exchanges that Park is a highly regarded and principled student.

Hallowes cuts short the meeting to announce he is doing his ‘set piece’ with Turner and Hamilton two fifteen year old junior students. His ‘set piece’ is an illuminating and often funny talk about the facts of life and the ‘tricky business of growing up’. He explains the physical differences between males and females to the particular embarrassment of the inexperienced Hamilton. The talk is concluded by informing the boys that in the absence of females within the school what may happen is that feelings can develop between boys though they should avoid any contact that may eventually ‘damage’ them.


When the talk is concluded Turner tells Hamilton of his bedroom experiences with some of the seniors. From here we learn more of the activities that are secreted away and it is clear that Turner has a very close sexual relationship with Tully a 17 year old House Prefect.

As the play progresses we learn more of the platonic friendship between Tully and Park who speaks of an unwanted sexual approach at school in his younger days and how keen he is to ensure protection of juniors from a similar experience. Turner challenges Tully to seduce Hamilton and the remainder of the play is about how their relationship develops, whether anyone finds out and if so what the consequences are. It makes for fascinating viewing.


The perfectly cast group of talented young actors are Jack Archer who is utterly convincing as Hamilton – cleverly depicting the character’s changes as the story develops, Jacques Miche who portrays the saucy Turner well and Oliver Gully who is a formidable Park bouncing off Harley Viveash’s stunning Tully. The experienced Simon Butteriss is perfect as the often twitchy Hallowes.

Overall this is a fascinating insight into life in a public school and how relationships alter following changes in circumstances. The cast are superb and each holds the attention of the audience as the direction from Christian Durham powers the play through from beginning to end. This timely revival of Quaint Honour is a delightful piece of skilled writing that oozes pathos, humour and provides an insight into seduction and survival in public school life in the fifties.


Reviewed by Steve Sparrow

Photography by Tristan Bell




is at the Finborough Theatre until 21st November



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