THE DOCK BRIEF by John Mortimer. This jolly, little play takes place in a prison cell in England in 1958 (set by Norman Scott), where a droll man named Fowle (Wesley Mann), the confessed murderer of his wife, is awaiting trial. He is being represented via a dock brief (like our court appointed Public Defender) by a verbose solicitor, Mr. Morgenhall (Frank Collison) who, after a less than illustrious career, hopes to make a sensational professional comeback and is all fired up to score a favorable verdict. They concoct all manner of legal shenanigans and hilarious maneuvers while planning their strategy. Problem is, this solicitor is more adept during rehearsals than at the actual trial.
Under the spirited direction of Robert Bailey, the two actors are superb and their performance alone merits your attendance. The rubber-faced Mann, a mild mannered, milk toast-y birdseed salesman, is a clever mimic with a dozen vocal inflections and attitudes. Collison, a tall, distinguished looking man, possessor of a sonorous voice, is ideally cast as the pompous but bumbling solicitor. He has to invent a motive other than that his client off’d his spouse, because of her sharing constant, raucous laughter with another man, which is what drove him to do the dirty deed. This one acter lasts only about an hour and it pays to read the glossary of British terms in your Footlights program, in advance. But even if you don’t, you’ll get it and certainly enjoy it. Finally, our congratulations to Pacific Resident Theatre on its 30th anniversary. Break many a leg!
Pacific Resident Theatre, 705 1/2 Venice Blvd., Venice 90291. Thursday – Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 3 pm. No intermission. $25 – $34. Free parking in rear lot. (310) 822-8392 pr The Pacific Resident Theatre ends 11/15
REVIEW BY INGRID WILMOT