Phil Hopkins, Group Travel Editor & Theatre Correspondent
The Verdict? Brilliant!
Jason Merrells and Vincent Pirello
If seamless casting is the quintessential ingredient of theatrical perfection, then Michael Lunney and Richard Walsh deserve a double accolade for being part of one of the finest pieces of drama I have seen in many a year.
Lunney is Director of The Verdict
, Margaret May Hobs’ superb stage adaptation of Barry Reed’s novel of the same name, whilst his fellow casting director, Richard Walsh, doubles up as diocesan Bishop Brophy and ‘holier than thou’ Judge Eldredge Sweeney.
But anchoring the play were the superb Jason Merrells as drunken, ambulance-chasing lawyer Frank Galvin, and his equally loveable sidekick, retired 75-year-old attorney at law, Vincent ‘The Little Jew Boy’ Pirillo, Moe Katz. Fantastic, both of them.
The across-the-board Boston accents were faultless, there were no ill-timed pauses and the action kept you sitting on the edge of your seat with every passing minute.
Holly Jackson Walters and Richard Walsh
Galvin is the small-town lawyer who’s been mentored through his legal career by Katz but, when faced with defending a woman in a permanent coma, the result of a medical accident that medics try to cover up, he is forced to park the bottle and step up to the plate, eventually winning $5.8m for his client.
It is a mammoth part and Merrells had every opportunity to cock it up but he didn’t. Just great.
It is rare that I wax lyrical about something in such gushing tones and, indeed, so many mediocre plays grace our regional stages and few have me glued, or on the edge, of my seat. Not the case last night. When you see quality it really stands out.
But, what impressed me most – as much as the individual performances – was the holistic, all-round quality of the performers who were so well cast.
Jason Merrells and Reanne Farley
Each was a strong character: the beautiful but duplicitous Donna St Laurent played by Reanne Farley, posing as a bar tender but really an undercover legal mole for the defending legals; chief attorney for the defence, silver fox Nigel Barber as J. Edgar Concannon and, and and….too numerous to mention.
But, if you were in this play, you all have my respect and I can only advise readers to take a look. It will require your full attention and, if like Mrs H, you keep taking a two-minute nap then you will lose the thread in the blink of a catnap snore!
So, drink plenty of water, have 30 winks before you leave home and make sure you are bright eyed and bushy tailed so that you can enjoy one of the best plays of the year so far!
Middle Ground Theatre Company: take a bow!
Until Saturday 1st July