The Witness by Vivienne Franzmann – Royal Court Theatre – Review

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Danny Webb, Pippa Bennett-Warner and David Ajala

An emotional evening tonight at The Royal Court Theatre as we watched the story or Rwanda genocide survivor Alex and her adoptive father Joseph.

Danny Webb plays the father, he’s one of  best actors I’ve seen. He always moves me and creates believable characters of profundity. (I’ve previously seen him in Blasted, and Chicken Soup With Barley ) It was again a joy to watch him tonight as he brought Joseph to life before our eyes. His drunk scene in Act 2 was a highlight for me, I won’t say too much about it as it features a great dramatic surprise.

Into their cosy safe suburban Hampstead existence comes a blast from the past that disrupts and changes everything, emotions run high as the uncomfortable past is dredged up.

The in the round living room set designed by Lizzie Clachan gives a sense of being trapped that Alex has and the security Joseph wants to hold on to.

Vivienne Franzmann has written an emotive piece that grapples with identity (just as Belong did last month in the Theatre Upstairs). It seems to be part of the zeitgeist as we try to gain or hold onto some form of identity in this fast changing 21st century. She also examines the roll of the journalist in the darkest parts of world affairs, are they witnesses? Do they help to change world opinion or are they voyeurs who stand by and watch rather try to stop the evil they see? It’s powerful and moving.

STARS : * * * *

Ps. I mentioned in my last review of a Royal Court production that I was finding the music played in between acts far too loud in the last few plays I’ve seen there. This appears to have been rectified as the music was just right tonight. 🙂


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