Playhouse Theatre, Dunedin

28/02/2015 - 07/03/2015

Production Details

This joint production by Dunedin’s Globe and Playhouse theatres is not really the “whodunit” that we might expect to see from this author/playwright but is more of a “what happens next” drama. 

The central character and his wife are refugees from persecution in their unnamed home country. He is happy in his new British home; she is less so. He is a successful academic, she a discontented and dissatisfied invalid. A murder is committed.

We, the audience, know by whom and why. But do others know this? Why do they react as they do – and would we do the same? What would be your Verdict?

Onstage at the Playhouse Theatre, 31 Albany Street, Dunedin
for 8 performances from
28th February until 7th March.
Start time 7.30pm except on Sunday 1st March (2pm)

Ticket prices $25 general public, $20 concession and groups

(This year marks the 125th anniversary of Christie’s birth and so a large number of productions of her plays and adaptations of her many books will be produced both here and in many other countries. This production will be the first in Otago.)

Theatre ,

A brilliant production

Review by Alison Embleton 02nd Mar 2015

An unconventional murder mystery, wherein the murderer (and their salacious motive) is known to the audience, but not to the characters. Agatha Christie’s Verdict, directed by the incomparable Natalie Ellis, tells the story of what happens after the body is discovered. Someone innocent is accused, and the relationships that have been well illustrated in the first act begin to unravel.

A beautifully constructed 1950s living room (Don Knewstubb, Ray Fleury and Rebecca Glover) sets the scene for the action, and the sound and lighting are both simple yet effective throughout the play (Brian Byas). There are also some helpful hints in the programme, so make sure to read it through before the play starts.

The central character of the play is Karl Hendryk (Bert Nisbet), a professor who along with his wife and her first cousin have immigrated to England, escaping persecution in an unidentified country (presumably Russia in this rendition). Karl is esteemed by both students and faculty, his wife, Anya (Elsa May), is an invalid looked after by Lisa Koletzky (Laura Wells), who followed the Hendryks into exile.

Lisa and Karl are covertly smitten with one another, a fact that is introduced though several touching scenes between the two.  Anya regrets leaving her home country, dislikes England, and blames Karl for their forced immigration: Karl had protected a persecuted scholar, and the Hendryks were deemed guilty by association and faced imprisonment.

Karl is pressured to take on a frivolous private student, Helen Rollander (Kimberly Buchan), the pampered daughter of Sir William Rollander (Mike Crowl), a rich and influential businessman who coerces Karl into tutoring her by promising to have Anya’s condition treated with a promising experimental drug. Helen is accustomed to getting anything she desires, which her rich father always provides. She claims she is in love with Karl, and in her delusional mind is convinced that Karl is in love with her.

A murder is committed, and Karl is forced to walk-the-talk, so to speak, of his moral convictions. A promising student of Karl’s Lester Cole (Brook Bray), the housekeeper Mrs Roper (Janice Snowden), Anya’s physician Doctor Stoner (Chris Summers) as well as the Police Sergeant (Jonathon Booth) and Detective Inspector (Ashley Stewart) all become embroiled in the resulting confusion over the murder.

Overall the production is of high quality, the actors play well off each other, never let the pace falter and it’s a delight to see a production where there are no weak links in the cast and the actors clearly enjoy working together. Their accents are believable and help to add a little context to the background of the story.

Special mention must go to Laura Wells for her portrayal of Lisa Koletzky. She is engaging and compelling to watch and the chemistry between Wells’s Lisa and Bert Nisbet’s Karl is delightful and heart-breaking.

A brilliant production, not to be missed.


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