Agatha Christie’s famous Witness For The Prosecution is an exciting tale of betrayal, justice and passion. Now, you can witness the gripping drama inside a real life courtroom at the London County Hall!
Suitable for ages 10+, this show is great for the whole family, and you can get tickets in Kids Week. If there are any budding lawyers, judges, registrars or police officers in your family, it’s a fantastic way to learn about the court system!
Let’s head inside the courtroom to learn more about the location of the play, the different characters and their roles:
Leonard Vole, the accused
As the accused person, Leonard Vole is innocent until proven guilty at trial. In this case, he has been charged with one of the most serious crime of all; murder. And in those days, a guilty verdict would result in the death penalty. He must decide whether to plead guilty or not guilty, and answer questions from the Crown prosecutor and the judge in a process called cross-examination.
Mr Mayhew / Mayherne, the solicitor of the accused
In this country, every person accused of a crime must have a right to a lawyer. The lawyers acting for the accused person are called the defence. It’s Mr Mayhew’s job to talk to his client (Leonard Vole) and gather information for the trial. Solicitors can’t speak in court, so Mr Mayhew must give information to the barrister.
Sir Wilfrid Robarts, QC, senior counsel of the accused
QC stands for Queen’s Counsel, which is a senior barrister. Mr Robarts is also a defence lawyer alongside Mr Mayhew. Unlike solicitors, barristers can speak in Court, and it’s Mr Robarts’ job to cross-examine witnesses and try to prove that Leonard Vole is not guilty.
Mr Myers, QC, the Crown prosecutor
The Crown prosecutor is the lawyer acting for the ‘Crown’ or government. They’re main job is to cross-examine the accused and other witnesses to try to prove that the accused is guilty of the crime. They are on the opposite side to the defence (like two teams in a match), and are called the prosecution.
Mr Justice Wainwright, the Judge
The Judge is at the top of the courtroom hierarchy, they’re kind of like a headteacher in a school (but with a funny wig!) They can make decisions about what happens in the trial and can interrupt at any point. These days, a High Court Judge still looks a lot like this. Judges still wear wigs in court, as well as a red and black uniform called a robe.
In a criminal trial, the Judge does not make the final decision. The decision about whether the accused is guilty or not guilty is up to the Jury.
The Jury is made up of 12 regular people – someone like you or your next door neighbour. This is to ensure that if you’re accused of a crime, you will be judged by others like you, and not just by people who know the law.
In this show, you can sit as a member of the Jury! There are a limited number of VIP Jury seats available per performance. You will be sitting in the Jury Box as the case unfolds before you.
Inspector Hearne, the arresting officer
The police officer who made the arrest must attend the hearing, or someone on their behalf. This is so that they can be questioned by the lawyers and judge about the arrest.
Greta, Sir Wilfrid’s typist and Carter, Sir Wilfrid’s clerk
There are lots of jobs within the courtroom, including the clerk who helps the lawyers. There are also typists, security guards, and registrars who open the Court and record what’s being said. They also bring people in to give evidence in a process called swearing in – they’re the ones who say “do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?”
Step inside the impressive London County Hall – situated on the South Bank of the River Thames beside the London Eye and the Westminster Bridge, and opposite the Houses of Parliament.
Grab your Kids Week tickets now, you have been summoned!