|Written by||Agatha Christie|
|Date premiered||25 February 1958|
Verdict is a 1958 play by British mystery writer Agatha Christie. It is unusual for Agatha Christie plays in more than one way: for example, it is an original play, not based on a story or novel; and though there is a murder in the story, it is a melodrama more than a typical 'whodunnit' mystery as the murder takes place on stage.
It was first produced by Peter Saunders and directed by Charles Hickman, with decor by Joan Jefferson Farjeon. The play premiered at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton on 25 February 1958, before moving to the Strand Theatre, London on 22 May 1958. It ran for 250 performances. In 1987 the play ran in the Arena Players Main Stage Theater in East Farmingdale, New York, and in May 2009 it premiered with an international cast in Luxembourg's Abbaye de Neumunster.
The play tells the story of Karl Hendryk, a brilliant professor who, with his wife and her cousin, have fled persecution in their country. It is not explicitly mentioned that they are Germans persecuted by Nazis – and Agatha Christie has probably deliberately given the characters names that are not evidently traceable to any national origin. The professor is contentedly ensconced in a British university, where he is respected by students and faculty alike. His wife, Anya, an invalid suffering from a progressively debilitating disease, bitterly regrets having been forced to leave her home and her friends and is unhappy with all aspects of her life in England. Her cousin and close friend, Lisa Koletzky, has moved with them to care for Anya and to manage the professor's home. Karl and Lisa have suppressed feelings for each other, and the situation is further disturbed when a young rich student, Helen Rollander, takes on private lessons with the professor.
Synopsis of scenes
The action of the play passes in the living-room of Professor Hendryk's flat in Bloomsbury. Time: not clear but probably in the 1950s.
- Scene 1 – An afternoon in early spring
- Scene 2 – A fortnight later. Afternoon.
- Scene 1 – Four days later. About midday.
- Scene 2 – Six hours later. Evening.
- Scene 3 – Two months later. Late afternoon.
Cast of London production
- George Roubicek played Lester Cole
- Gretchen Franklin played Mrs. Roper
- Patricia Jessel played Lisa Koletzky
- Gerard Heinz played Professor Karl Hendryk
- Derek Oldham played Dr. Stoner
- Viola Keats played Anya Hendryk
- Moira Redmond played Helen Rollander
- Norman Claridge played Sir William Rollander
- Michael Golden played Detective Inspector Ogden
- Gerald Sim played Police Sergeant Pearce
The play was first published in 1958 in a paperback edition by Samuel French Ltd as Acting Edition No. 833 priced at six shillings. It was first published in hardback in The Mousetrap and Other Plays by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1993 (ISBN 0-39-607631-9) and in the UK by Harper Collins in 1993 (ISBN 0-00-224344-X).