BARRY Reed’s best-selling courtroom drama thrusts the audience to the edge of their seats as the stage play of The Verdict opens in Southampton.

Starring Happy Valley’s Jason Merrells as Frank Galvin, a washed-up and often inebriated attorney-at-law, The Verdict brilliantly captures the claustrophobic suspense made famous in the 1982 Oscar-nominated film.

The Verdict is one of the most well-known courtroom dramas to receive praise both on the stage and the big screen, alongside the likes of A Few Good Men, 12 Angry Men, and To Kill a Mockingbird as Reed’s novel features an array of quotable lines that have been regurgitated in popular culture for decades, such as 'I believe there is justice in our hearts'.

The story follows Galvin take on the biggest case of his career, as he looks to redeem himself and score big with an open-and-shut medical malpractice case that nobody thinks he can win.

In doing so, the down and out attorney takes on the powerful and unflinching medical establishment of Boston, bravely refusing an out of court settlement – as he fights for the justice of a young mother confined to a hospital bed, believing there’s something her doctors are trying to hide.

Though the production clocks in on the long side at two hours and 40 minutes, every moment is more gripping than the last. The realistic performances of the ensemble cast – that features, Richard Walsh, Reanne Farley, and Nigel Barber, absorb the audience into the story – quite literally in the second act as members of the auditorium are presented as the jury.

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Daily Echo:

It says a lot that a play that largely takes place in only three sets (an office, a bar, and a courtroom) without the theatrics of a musical can envelop and entertain an audience quite as much as The Verdict, as the staging and execution from the cast is nothing less than faultless.

From the lead role to a background extra, the cast is completely in sync with each other as there’s always something to keep an eye on, as it’s the small details and character quirks that make you forget you’re watching a highly orchestrated show, rather than real life events playing out before your very eyes.

As someone who is a huge fan of the highly regarded film starring Hollywood icon, Paul Newman, the stage production of The Verdict surpassed all expectations – finding the perfect balance of Reed’s elaborate novel and the spectacle of the film version.   

Though the play was first scheduled for MAST Mayflower Studios in February, before “technical challenges” prevented the show from going ahead, it is now running at Mayflower Theatre from Tuesday, July 18 to Saturday, July 22, as it ends its UK tour.