Witness for the Prosecution

A thrilling courtroom drama of murder and passion in three acts

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Cast size: 13


Witness for the Prosecution
Leonard Vole stands accused of murdering a rich widow. The stakes are high with shocking witness testimony, impassioned outbursts from the dock and a young man’s fight to escape the hangman’s noose. Generally regarded as one of Christie’s most accomplished plays, this suspenseful thriller keeps audiences guessing until the very end.

Play information

The action takes place between the Chambers of Sir Wilfred Robarts, Q.C and the Old Bailey at the Central Criminal Court.
Running time
2 hours 30 minutes

Character list

  • Number of male characters: 9
  • Number of female characters: 4
  • Greta
  • Carter
  • Mr. Mayhew
  • Leonard Vole
  • Sir Wilfred Robarts
  • Inspector Hearne
  • Romaine
  • Mr. Justice Wainwright
  • Mr. Myers, Q.C.
  • Dr. Wyatt
  • Janet Mackenzie
  • Mr. Clegg
  • The Other Woman

Performing this play

More about this play

By 1954 Witness was one of three Christie plays running simultaneously in the West End, a feat which she was the first female playwright to achieve.
The sole exception is Dame Agatha, who managed to write not one, not two, but three of the great stage mysteries: And Then There Were None, Witness for the Prosecution, and The Mousetrap.
Ira Levin, Novelist & Playwright

Additional information

There are also 17 supernumeraries in this play:

  • Clerk Of The Court
  • Court Usher
  • Foreman
  • Warder
  • Woman Juror
  • A Policeman
  • Plain-clothes Detective
  • Alderman
  • Court Stenographer
  • The Judge’s Clerk
  • 1st Barrister
  • 2nd Barrister
  • 3rd Barrister
  • 4th Barrister
  • 5th Barrister
  • 6th Barrister
  • Male Juror

Agatha Christie was conscious that the large cast size of the play could be a problem for any company. She was willing to consider various solutions but put forward the following specific idea:

“As there are a large number of non-speaking parts, it may well be that amateurs or supernumeraries can be used where this is permissible, or members of the audience be invited
on to the stage, and I believe that this would be greatly to the benefit of the play rather than lose the spectacle of a lot of people in the court scene.

Although Greta never appears at the same time as ‘The Other Woman’ i.e. the strawberry blonde in the final scene, this part should not be doubled, as the audience will think it is ‘plot’ – which, of course, it isn’t.

Carter – Can double as the Judge
Inspector Hearne – Can double as Policeman at end of last act
Plain Clothes Detective – Can be doubled by Warder
Clerk Of The Court – This part can be combined with Court Usher
Alderman – Can be dispensed with
Court Stenographer – Can be dispensed with
Judge’s Clerk – Can be dispensed with
Six Barristers – Four can be dispensed with
Three Members Of The Jury – These can be dispensed with and the ‘taking of the oath’ and ‘returning the verdict’ can be done by a voice ‘off’
Mr. Myers, Q.C. – Can double plain-clothes Detective
Agatha Christie, 1957”

This solution is considered pre-approved for production by Agatha Christie Ltd.. Other combinations are considered for approval on application.