bisop and Galvin

Richard Walsh is the scheming Bishop Brophy with Jason Merrels as Frank Galvin

The Verdict

Derby Theatre


Courtroom dramas work particularly well in the theatre. Although this particular story is more famous in the film version , it instantly feels at home in Derby Theatre.

The film was released in 1982 , directed by Sidney Lumet and written by David Mamet, adapted from Barry Reed's 1980 novel of the same name. It starred Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, James Mason, Milo O'Shea, and Lindsay Crouse. They are big shoes for any actor to fill.

The action unfolds around an alcoholic lawyer, Frank Galvin in Boston USA. who accepts a medical negligence claim to inject some much needed funds into his coffers, but as the claim unfolds he rediscovers his own sense of right and wrong. At a time when the British House of Commons has been wrestling with truth, and what that means, the content seems particularly contemporary.

Jason Merrels is outstanding as Galvin, his characterisation is nuanced and assertive in a production by Middle Ground Theatre Company and Margaret May Hobbs which eschews fancy bells and whistles in favour of a rich plot, well told with a fine supporting cast. Not a moment of the 160 minute running time, including interval, is wasted.

The first act is split between Frank’s two homes, his office and his favourite bar, the second act transforms the theatre auditorium into a courtroom with the audience as jury. Both Acts have their own in house characters. In the bar, owner and friend Michael Lunney is a delight as Eugene alongside sassy barmaid Reanne Farley as Donna.

In the Courtroom, Nigel Barber delights as smarmy Lead Attorney for the Defence. J Edgar Concannon played by Richard Walsh is scheming as Bishop Brophy, and Jason Wilson’s Dr Rexford Towler is the pompous embodiment of established vested interests.

Taut, immersive and compelling, awash with sharp dialogue and the inevitable staccato rap of the judges’ gavel, this is an outstanding production and plays at Derby until sat 24th before continuing on tour.

Gary Longden


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