The Verdict at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
Courtrooms can be as dramatic as the most powerful of plays, and barristers can be even more theatrical than the most histrionic of actors.

I should know. I was a Crown Court reporter for five years and, though it was decades ago and the King’s current production is set in Boston, The Verdict felt so authentic it took me back to those days when I witnessed daily a different kind of theatre performed on an oak-panelled stage.

The oak-panelling is there is this beautifully presented play from the consistently satisfying Middle Ground Theatre Company. But in the capable hands of the multi-talented Michael Lunney (artistic director, director and designer, who also plays the kindly bar owner Eugene Meehan) the imposing courtroom is almost overshadowed by the impressive, 3-D effect backdrop of a snowy Boston, lit with that cold winter luminescence by Jeremy Barnaby, in sharp contrast to Meehan’s bar’s warm glow.

With a shabby office on the side, the scene is set for a powerful production both cast and audience can really get their teeth into.

There is certainly nothing histrionic about the performances in this latest version of Barry Reed’s famous play. As a down-at-heel gumshoe who sues the Roman Catholic Church and a hospital for gross negligence after his client is reduced to a vegetative state, Ian Kelsey is totally believable. A world away from his former roles in Coronation Street, Doctors and Emmerdale, as Frank Galvin, a hard-drinking attorney who can’t pay his rent, at first he appears slightly seedy, but when he sets his mind to fighting for justice, his passion and Kelsey’s emotional performance brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion. It was fortunate then that the ever welcome Denis Lill, as Frank’s mentor, is on hand to deliver the funny lines, which he does, as always, with aplomb.

Together with a sterling cast and some lilting Irish music from Lynette Webster, this rivetting play is another winner for Middle Ground.

The Verdict is at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh until May 4.
Box Office: 0131 529 6000
It then continues touring:
May 7-11: Eden Court Theatre, Inverness
May 21-25: Theatre Royal, Plymouth