THE first stage adaptation of The Verdict, best known as a 1982 Sidney Lumet film, stops at Salisbury Playhouse until 11th March, the sixth venue of a 12-stop UK Middle Ground Theatre tour.
This Margaret Mary Hobbs adaption of Barry Reed’s novel, directed by Michael Lunney, keeps the audience holding its breath. It’s a story of courage, truth, corruption and cover-up.
Frank Galvin, (played shambolically by the charismatically attractive Clive Mantle) is a drunken lawyer, sleeping in his Boston office, filling his days chasing work via the obituary columns of the local paper and stumbling to and from the pub.
The action starts as a distraught Mrs McDaid (Nuala Walsh), comes to plead for the settlement of the case of her daughter, Debbie, left in a permanent vegetative state after a routine delivery ended in disaster in the hospital.
She’s followed by the Bishop (Richard Walsh, who also plays the tetchy judge), whose responsibilities include the hospital where the accident occurred, offering a pay-off for the family.
Galvin is on the verge of accepting – he could do with his share of the money – but a visit to Debbie in the hospital convinces him he has to fight for recognition of the culpability of the doctors and a proper settlement for the family – Mrs McDaid and her three young grandchildren, left without a mother.
As the leading Boston lawyer wheels and deals to win the case for the hospital and the diocese, Galvin, with his former partner Moe Katz (Jack Shepherd), tries to back up his hunch of a cover-up with evidence.
The 15-strong cast bring this heartfelt Irish-American story to compelling life in a taut and complex courtroom drama that underlines how hard it is for the individual to fight the establishment.
It’s a great evening of theatre, and only a tiny handful of seats is left for every performance, which include a Saturday matinee.