Until August 27th (not 13th) (12:25)
“Courtroom Play” … did exactly what it said on the tin. The economically sized stage – one must become accustomed to the small size of Fringe venues in Edinburgh city centre – was tidily set up to immediately point the way in to what lay ahead, with the words “Preston & Gates” projected on to a screen at the back and black drapes at either side of the stage acting like columns. The overall feel was like a Lawyer’s office in an older city centre building. I found the screen itself most attractive with its geometric shapes and cerulean blue light that glowed out over the audience.
The first character to grace the stage was lawyer Alex Stone, who stood alone and told us she was a hot-shot lawyer fighting in the name of justice. In fact we learn that she has come back to her home town, a place called Thatchford, from the big city firm where she works in order to do that very thing. And thus the scene is set for the story to unfold before our eyes. The action moves along at an easy pace, with plenty of scene changes, enlightening conversations, quickfire dialogue and wisecracks, performed with gusto by the all-star cast of Fringe comedians. We find ourselves effectively drawn ever further in to the drama, as we follow the scene changes and focus on each character in turn as the story develops.
The most striking, indeed the brashest, character in all this was inevitably the Judge, with his large wig and audience prompts. But it was more than the props – this character had a commanding presence as he presided over his court, set high above the stage, and the audience both respected him and collapsed in laughter at his gruff jokes. In the court scene, in contrast to the main characters’ dark formal dress, the stage and the judge’s high desk was all lit up in colour, giving the scene a feeling almost of a Spiegel tent, which gave the show a very appealing appearance.
When the three witnesses – all portrayed by the same actress – took to the stage, the set stood still and dark but for the spotlight that lit up the space. The dialogue was concise, and delivered with a kind, quiet respect for these justice seekers. It showed enemies (defence and prosecution) who are friends outside of their court battles overseen by the courtroom judge. There was cross referencing that was well thought out between lawyers in the courtroom scene. We heard each revelation with interest as we followed the twists and turns of the case (a murder). In some ways these scenes were almost like reading a book in a calm and considered way.
In the end, once the case is concluded and the story comes to an end, we are left feeling that the lawyers have done well and justice has been done – a most satisfying conclusion. The actors take their bow and we enthusiastically thank them with applause, cheering, and a few standing in ovation. If you like light hearted drama with plenty of plot then this show is the one for you – go along and be engrossed!
Review: Daniel Donnelly
Photography: Kate Wright-Sanders