Cockpit Theatre, London
With the closure of all the theatres during the coronavirus outbreak and the country lockdown. I reviewed the last production performed at the Cockpit Theatre of The Dock Brief which had been filmed especially for reviewing purposes. It was a somewhat unusual experience and although it’s been nice to be able to review from the comfort of my home it definitely is not something I wish to do for any length of time. As the only thing that it’s really highlighted to me is how much I’m missing not going to the theatre and reviewing first-hand from the live experience.
The Dock Brief is a two-man production written by the late Sir John Mortimer the barrister and playwright whose most famous work has to have been Rumpole of the Bailey. The story is based around the relationship between the accused known as The Unsuccessful Criminal Mr Fowle (Kingsley Glover) and his bumbling unsuccessful barrister Morganhall (Matthew Vernon). These two actors appeared to have an excellent connection on stage which for a production heavily reliant on dialogue is definitely crucial.
Henpecked husband Fowle the seed shop owner has been accused of murdering his adulterous wife of 40 years. Fowle simply wants to plead guilty and get on with his jail sentence. However, Morganhall has other ideas and wants to clear his client’s name in order to help him become famous. Which would help him increase his client list at the same time which currently stood at the grand sum of one, Fowle?
Morgenhall confesses to Fowle early on that he is his only client. Which should really have raised concerns to the accused about his ability as a Barrister. This fact becomes more apparent throughout the performance as Morgenhall devotes an awful lot of time to his client, far more than I imagine a Barrister would have time for.
Glover’s performance of the defendant is extremely believable and alongside his main role, he also plays a host of other characters in minor subplots mainly in the form of conversations building up to the time of the crime. These range from a policeman, shop owner to a Judge.
Each of the scenarios acted out during their role-play ends in a not guilty verdict. The failing barrister certainly has an extremely high opinion of his own ability and appears desperate to make his mark in the justice system and become well known. While trying to coerce his client into following his instructions onto what to say actually happened.
I especially enjoyed the range of voices that Glover gave to each of the additional characters which allowed them to take on a persona of their own during each of their brief appearances. He certainly gave a very entertaining and interesting performance.
The filming quality was pretty good on the whole although the glaring lights often obscured the two actors faces. However, the sound quality was extremely good and both actors were very clear and concise speakers.
The company hopes to take this back to the stage once restrictions are lifted and I would be very pleased to accept an offer if they were to invite me back to see it once the production returns to the stage.
Kingsley Glover as The Unsuccessful Criminal
Matthew Vernon as The Unsuccessful Barrister
Director David Tudor.