| Oct 29, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - October 29, 2009 Beyond reasonable DoubtBy Margaret Sullivan

Mark Veeno as Sir David Metcalfe and Roseanna Redmond as Lady Metcalfe.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt, the latest venture of the North Frontenac Little Theatre, is a thought-provoking courtroom drama about Sir David Metcalfe, a defence attorney accused of poisoning his dying wife in order pay off a large debt with his inheritance.

The director, Doug MacIntyre, made a bold choice to use a theatre in the round setting for this play and was successful in his artistic efforts. This particular play was well suited to that form of theatre. The first act, which is set in a courtroom, allowed the audience to play jury, and the second act, set in the Metcalfe living room, worked equally well. The intimacy of being so close to the actors was a unique experience and not at all invasive, as one might imagine. It was evident that the cast paid special attention to their movements to ensure good visibility for all audience members. The Saturday night audience seemed receptive to the cozy theatre in the round setting.

The play begins at the murder trial of Sir David Metcalfe. Peter Platenius, who was well cast as the judge, watched as a number of witnesses presented their evidence and were cross-examined. John Stevens rose to the challenge of a role that demanded very lengthy monologues as the prosecutor, Anthony Blair-Booth.

The fairly lengthy first act was kept fresh by the supporting cast. Although Jane Adamson had no dialogue she remained present and in character as the court stenographer. Fred Barrett was flawless as Detective Chief Inspector Travers and Dick Miller exuded confidence and charm as Lionel Hamilton, Sir David’s friend and solicitor.

Marc Veno gained momentum as Sir David Metcalfe and by Act Two was on a roll. He was well matched by Sue Irwin who provided some comic relief as Mrs Rodgers, the nosy housekeeper, in an otherwise dark story. Roseanna Redmond, clearly enjoying her role as Lady Metcalfe, painted a picture of matrimonial bliss marred only by her illness, alternately playing up the romance and tragedy of the situation.

The sets were effective though not overwhelmingly complex. The use of levels added a nice dynamic to the courtroom, with the accused and the witnesses being slightly raised and the judge overseeing it all. Bernie Slavin and Jeff Siamon did an excellent job lighting the sets and managed to keep the light contained in the centre of the room without it spilling over the audience.

The costumes were another subtlety that added to the authenticity of the production. From the crisp uniforms of the court guards to the housekeeper’s starched cap and apron, the costumes provided by Nina Jenkins were very appropriate and detailed.

Although the scenes took place in non-sequential order, they were tied together using recordings of dialogue from previous scenes, ensuring that no one was lost as to how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together in the end. 

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