Catherine Steadman tells Group Leisure & Travel about her experience starring in the new adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution which is running until 11th March 2018 at London County Hall.
Catherine, for those who aren’t familiar with the Agatha Christie story, what can you tell us?
It’s a ‘did he/didn’t he?’ courtroom drama. All the witnesses in the story have conflicting stories of what happened the night of a rich older woman’s death. Her money has been left to the man suspected of her murder but it is very unclear whether he did it or not!
You play Romaine Vole, tell me about this character?
Romaine is the German wife of the man suspected of murder and the whole trial and his life hangs on her testimony of what happened that night. But can her testimony be trusted?
What drew you to the role?
It’s a fantastic part firstly - but I loved the idea of the show being set in County Hall’s court room setting. I think the idea of making this story immediate and fresh and exciting again for an audience is thrilling.
What’s it like to work with your fellow cast?
It’s so great to work with David Yelland and Pip Franks. I remember watching The Darling Buds of May with my parents as a child, so it’s wonderful to be sharing a stage with Pip now.
Do you have a favourite character besides your own?
Richard Attlee as Dr Wyatt is just fantastic. One of my favourite bits of the play involves him. And Hywel Simons as the Inspector - he does such great things with the character.
You’ve been in a diverse selection of TV shows from Downton Abbey to The Inbetweeners. How does Witness for the Prosecution and your role differ from your past experiences in acting?
There is no real rehearsal period for TV. You learn your lines and show up and briefly outline the scene before shooting it. With theatre, however, you get four to five weeks to work on your scenes and string the play together.
Pictured: Cast of Witness for the Prosecution.
Have you always been a fan of Agatha Christie novels?
I’ve seen and loved a lot of the TV adaptations of her stories but I’ve never read any of her books until now.
She’s known best for her detective/crime stories, is that a genre you’re most interested in?
I think her influence can be felt throughout the whole crime genre. Without her I don’t think we’d have shows like Midsomer Murders, Death in Paradise, Doctor Foster, JK Rowling’s Strike series, Morse, Line of Duty, Grantchester, or Lewis.
How do you have to adapt the way you perform to suit the environment of County Hall?
It’s both an intimate and a grand setting but essentially for the performers it’s just working ‘in the round’ with a quite close audience.
What can audiences expect when they come to see the show? Will there be any audience participation?
I think it’ll appeal to theatre and non-theatre fans alike due to the immersive nature of the production. The show will play out almost like an interactive experience for the audience. Mic Poole’s sound design as well as the set and lighting effects will lend a very filmic quality and atmosphere to the show.
What has been the most challenging part about rehearsing for this show?
Retrospectively working back through the twists in Agatha’s story to find out exactly who knew what, when and where.
The show is currently booking until March. What’s next for you?
First a holiday then over to LA for auditions. My first novel Something in the Water comes out in July of next year so I’ll be getting ready for the run up to that too.
If you could play any role in any show, what would it be?
In a couple of years, I’d love to take on Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In the meantime, I’m enjoying doing whatever comes next.
Besides acting, what other interests do you have?
I recently got my degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) after five years of part time study with the Open University - which I can’t recommend highly enough. I am also a writer so I’m working on my second novel now too.
What is the most rewarding thing about performing?
When you feel an audience is going all out with you on your characters journey - that you’re both experiencing the play together as it happens.
Witness for the Prosecution is running at London County Hall until 11th March 2018. Visit www.witnesscountyhall.com for more information. Group tickets are available via Group Line on the show website.