Fringe Box



Review: The Verdict – Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 21 Mar, 2017
Updated on: 21 Mar, 2017

By Ferenc Hepp

A courtroom drama based in 1980s America is brought to the Yvonne Arnaud this week with the World Stage Premiere of The Verdict.

The original novel was made into a successful film in 1982, adapted by David Mamet, directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Paul Newman who received a best leading actor Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Frank Galvin.

The leading man in this production is Clive Mantle, best known for playing general surgeon Dr Mike Barratt in the BBC hospital drama series Casualty and Holby City in the 1990s. Mantle gives an emotional and powerful performance as Galvin, ably supported by Jack Shepherd, from TV’s Wycliffe, as Moe Katz, Galvin’s lawyer partner, and Peter Harding as J Edward Concannon, the defence lawyer.

The plot revolves around a medical negligence case which Galvin is entrusted with, despite now being an alcoholic and merely an ‘ambulance chaser’, who is struggling to win or even take on cases.

This is billed as a courtroom drama, however, the two halves are very different. The action before the interval merely sets the scene where we are introduced to the majority of the characters and their backgrounds who are involved in the story.

In the play, written by Barry Reed and directed and designed by Michael Lunney, we are in 1980s America. The setting now appears old fashioned: no computers or mobile phones.

Clive Mantle gives an emotional and powerful performance Mantle as Galvin, ably supported by Jack Shepherd, Galvin’s lawyer.

The case is being brought against two doctors. They are accused of administering a strong anaesthetic to a young woman, about to go into delivery, who allegedly had a full meal just one hour prior to childbirth.

But nine hours is the recommended period between eating and the anaesthetia and the woman choked on her own vomit. She is now lying in a vegetative state having lost the majority of her brain function.

if you like a good story and appreciate gritty acting, this is for you

There are three settings in this act: Galvin’s office, a local bar and St Catherine’s hospital. The detail of the office and the bar take up so much of the Yvonne Arnaud’s stage on the two sides, that St Catherine’s is more like an afterthought with only a barely visible backdrop much further upstage and just a table to represent the room where the discussions are taking place.

My attention was grabbed more in Act Two, when the real drama of the courtroom unfolds. The judge is played by Richard Walsh in quite a stereotypical sarcastic manner and there were some quiet sniggers coming from the audience as a result of some of his lines.

We meet Natalie Stampanatto, the nurse who admitted the pregnant lady in question, at this point, played by Eugenia Caruso; a very interesting contrast to all the brash lawyer behaviour. Despite her quiet and nervous demeanour Natalie offers up a crucial piece of evidence in order to try and help Galvin win his case.

Some of the discursive dialogue in this adaptation was possibly a little superfluous, but there is certainly some excellent and very believable acting from an experienced cast brought together by the Middle Ground Theatre Company.

Should this have been adapted to the stage rather than left as a novel and a film? Possibly not, but if you like a good story and appreciate gritty acting, this is for you.

The Verdict runs until Saturday March 25 and tickets are available via the Yvonne Arnaud website: or by calling the box office on 01483 440000.

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