The Verdict Press Quotes

“Middle Ground’s impressive touring production, fine Boston sets… Ian Kelsey turns in a compelling performance as Galvin, with Denis Lill in fine form… Michael Lunney’s production tells this grand, filmic story in some style, and keeps the audience enthralled throughout”

“Gripping… A true ensemble piece, the sheer wealth of experience and talent on stage… that you can hear the proverbial pin drop as Kelsey delivers his emotionally charged summing up is a testament to the power of the piece.”

“THE VERDICT felt so authentic it took me back to the days as a Crown Court reporter. Ian Kelsey is totally believable as Frank Galvin…. his passion and emotional performance brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion. It was fortunate that the ever welcome Denis Lill as Frank’s mentor Moe Katz, is on hand to deliver the funny lines, which he does, as always with aplomb. Together with a sterling cast and some lilting Irish music from Lynette Webster, this beautifully presented and riveting play is another winner from the consistently satisfying Middle Ground Theatre Company in the capable hands of the multi-talented Michael Lunney.”

“Ian Kelsey delivers an excellent performance, the star of the show is Denis Lill as Moe Katz, Frank’s mentor, father figure and ex-partner. As the trial unfolds the tension is palpable…  get to The Gaiety, Dublin.”

“Ian Kelsey is superb… It’s a powerful piece of theatre, a brilliant set and fine acting from a cast of fifteen actors.”

“Ian Kelsey’s powerfully sympathetic performance as Frank gives us a David to believe in as he takes on the Goliath of the Catholic church. A drama that’s truly absorbing and thought-provoking.”

“This World Stage Premiere of Barry Reed’s gripping narrative is an absolute tour de force in the finest tradition of court room dramas. Clive Mantle strides the stage like some bedraggled, crumpled suited colossus. Thoroughly Entertaining.”

“Absolutely Unanimous verdict – it’s a hit! A theatrical treat that is a near perfect and certainly powerful courtroom drama… utterly captivating.”

“Margaret May Hobbs’ adaptation of Barry Reed’s novel deftly avoids all the courtroom clichés. A work of real sophistication……fabulous to watch. 4 STARS”

“The Verdict is absorbing from the start, with an easy pace that allows the characters to develop their potential. While the first act draws you in, the courtroom scene in the second act is an adversarial battle ground full of mounting tension. Point scoring, legal theatrics and personal betrayal build The Verdict into a satisfying conclusion. With a number of characters being Irish or of Irish descent, the violin score by Lynette Webster, with its traditional airs, makes unusual yet enchanting musical links between the scenes. It would be good to see more such productions….”

“The casting of this play is perfection. A sixteen strong cast could not be better chosen in their respective roles. It really is a dream team. The diverse and extraordinary talented Clive Mantle…… excellent execution of this highly intelligent script…… with award winning actor Jack Shepherd offering a standout performance.”

“Exceptional collection of performances. By some measure one of the finest acted productions in recent memory. ….a truly enviable line up of talent. It’s a resolutely superlative cast that elevate an already compelling piece into something even bolder. The Verdict is an absorbing, rich and supremely confident slice of courtroom intrigue, the likes of which we sadly do not see enough of.”

“The Verdict is a captivating American courtroom drama that will have you gripped. Mantle and Shepherd have a wonderful chemistry on stage which makes The Verdict a joy to watch…..thrilling.”

“This is live theatre at its very best. This powerful courtroom thriller hooks the audience in the first few seconds and holds them spellbound until the compelling finale.”

“A first-class performance… go and see The Verdict!”

“Clive Mantle gives a towering performance in this simmering play…amongst the best examples of naturalistic acting I’ve ever seen at Theatre Severn. Middle Ground’s stage production is equally well cast with Jack Shepherd and Peter Harding giving Mantle terrific support… It’s a well thought out, intelligently written, cleverly produced and directed, and exceptionally well-acted play. In short, everything a good piece of theatre should be.”

“Works splendidly on every level. It is a slick, highly-entertaining two-hour fifty minutes… this is a first class drama on every count.”

“A superbly acted courtroom drama”

“Keeps the audience holding its breath… a great evening of theatre”

“Gripping stuff!”

“Fantastic …Possibly the best court room drama ever made. A must see!”

“A masterful piece of theatre that grips its audiences throughout. It’s a beautifully cast production….Clive Mantle turns in a tour de force performance. Enthralling theatre at its very best”

“Compelling… Clive Mantle excels in the role of Galvin… strong performances from the main characters and large ensemble cast.”

“Carefully measured, entertaining… an excellent production. 4.5 STARS”

“Leaves you on the edge of your seat…this was probably one of the best performances I had seen at the theatre. For a moment I even forgot I was watching a play and thought I was in an actual courtroom. Mantle and Shepherd are most definitely worth going to see if not for the heart-wrenching storyline itself!”

“This play adaptation of The Verdict proved that courtroom dramas are as intense on stage as they are on screen and every bit as captivating”

“Brilliant… gripping stuff. FIVE STARS”

“Everything you would expect from a gritty courtroom drama… you can hear gasps from the audience as each twist in the plot is unveiled”

“This is the most gripping courtroom drama with a brilliant storyline and wonderfully flawed but fabulous characters played by a tip-top cast of well-known actors. FIVE STARS”

“Ian Kelsey will get all the plaudits  for this play, and they will be well deserved, but the supporting cast in THE VERDICT is an especially strong one and should not be overlooked. Dr Towler was performed beautifully by Paul Opacic with just the right level of arrogance in his manner. Richard Walsh  delivers two outstanding performances which are completely different as both Bishop Brophy and the Judge, Michael Lunney is unrecognisable as the amiable Irish bartender and then the odious Dr Crowley and Holly Jackson Walters’ performance pulled at your heartstrings and you believed every word she uttered… you will be thrilled and entertained by this compelling courtroom drama which has made a successful transfer to the stage”

“Ian Kelsey’s impressive performance as Frank Galvin and the chemistry he shares with Denis Lill as his “Guardian Angel” Moe Katz and the adroit direction of Michael Lunney… a hugely enjoyable and surprisingly funny courtroom drama invigorated by a sprightly Celtic score by Lynette Webster”

“Director Michael Lunney has created a slick production, the moral dilemma at the story’s heart is compelling. Josephine Rogers shines as mysterious Donna St Laurent and Denis Lill as marvellous Moe Katz. I can’t deny that I am engrossed throughout, and this is a snappy engaging piece of work”

“Even in the crowded field of American courtroom dramas, THE VERDICT remains a frontrunner. So every credit that it should fall to Malvern-based Middle Ground Theatre Company to be the first to stage its adaptation. Ther’s nothing middling about its large and accomplished cast, or the hefty stage design for a touring production. The acting is uniformly authentic throughout with soap star Ian Kelsey in the central role Frank Galvin, heading a cast of many other familiar TV faces. Every cameo role is given high definition by director and designer Michael Lunney. He founded Middle Ground just over 30 years ago and without their efforts a lot of UK theatre would be missing out on professional productions of such calibre”

“This utterly arresting stage production by the Middle Ground Theatre Co Ltd ticks all the right boxes. A true nail biter… this dramatic production is extremely well cast. Ian Kelsey and Denis Lill are superb, while Okon Jones reminds me of Morgan Freeman. A Highly competent production not to be missed. 5 STARS”

“It’s no trial watching this stage version of THE VERDICT, in fact it’s a real pleasure… Ian Kelsey is a well known face, a veteran of Emmerdale, Doctors and more, able to put bums on seats, his performance reminds us the reason he’s on telly so much, isn’t his leading man looks – he’s a superb actor. The way he moves, dresses and drinks…this is a man worn down by life, a guy whose numbing himself to pain. Denis Lill is wonderful as Frank’s mentor and former partner Moe Katz, he’s the archetype wise cracking American Jew but, as essayed by Lill never a stereotype”

“There’s much to admire in Margaret May Hobbs’ adaptation… THE VERDICT is superbly paced and beautifully performed, honours the tradition of great legal dramas as one man goes up against overwhelming odds in his quest for truth……’ll thoroughly enjoy THE VERDICT… multi-talented director and designer Michael Lunney captures with wonderful naturalism the Sam Spade griminess of Frank’s world……..a naturalism that goes to inform many of the superbly rendered performances. Lynette Webster’s score dominated by haunting arrangements of Irish songs, adds a touch of melancholy Bostonian Irishness”

“Middle Ground Theatre Co present an incredible rendition of Barry Reed’s novel that is both memorable and utterly enthralling……Frank Galvin is played with impressive panache by Ian Kelsey…..the acting is strong throughout, with particularly memorable performances from Denis Lill as the Lawyer’s ailing mentor and Paul Opacic as the arrogant and manipulative doctor…..The stage design’s versatility is remarkable….. The Verdict is Exceptional. 5 STARS”

“A fine production of a classic courtroom drama, follows in the footsteps of other courtroom masterpieces such as “12 Angry Men” and “To Kill A Mocking Bird”. Middle Ground Theatre Company’s world premiere adaptation led superbly by Ian Kelsey who plays Frank Galvin…….an exciting set design….the cast of the show were the real highlight…..the brilliant Denis Lill…. for a thrilling and enjoyable evening out….. this highly competent production is not to be missed”

“If the jury is out on whether to come and watch this show, then let us present to you a winning case as to why THE VERDICT is a must see performance. Whether in a leading or supporting role, each cast member stands out and makes a memorable impact….they are the ones who truly make the impact of this story so powerful….the staging of the play is very impressive”

“Ian Kelsey portrayed the down in his luck ambulance chasing attorney superbly….you will not be disappointed by the supporting cast, Denis Lill as Frank’s mentor was sensational. 4 STARS”

“The Verdict is a compelling courtroom drama, which combined with powerful performances, pulls the audience into its world, keeping us riveted to the final moment………special mention must go to Michael Lunney and Richard Walsh, who are double cast as Eugene Meehan and Dr Daniel Crowley, and Bishop Brophy and Eldredge Sweeney respectively. Through their performances and clever use of wigs and makeup, it was nigh impossible without glancing at the programme to tell they were the same person each time. Denis Lill as Moe Katz, Galvin’s mentor, also steals every scene he’s in. And Anne Kavanagh as Mrs McDaid, as the plaintiff’s mother, gives a heart-wrenching performance. 4 STARS”

““Ian Kelsey is in fine form, as the down on his luck lawyer, he is able to let Galvin’s sense of truth shine through and it’s wonderful to watch. Denis Lill as the wise cracking Moe Katz turns in a shining performance that sparkles with comedy wit. This is an all – star cast with a 17 strong company….. special mention must go to Richard Walsh who not only performs Bishop Brophy but delivers a stealthy turn as Judge Eldredge Sweeney with some brilliant comedy asides. Also worthy of credit is Holly Jackson Walters, her moment in the dock during ACTII is a moment of expertly delivered performance that leaves you feeling the pain she has suffered in revisiting old wounds. A winning evening of courtroom drama, a slow burn but ultimately leads to a thrilling conclusion. 4 STARS”

“Frank Galvin played by Ian Kelsey performed heroically as the lead charcter……the responsibility sat well with Kelsey who moved from brooding alcoholic to revitalised defender of the underdog with a style and energy that was impressive…….Mrs McDaid played by Anne Kavanagh stole the show. Every time she was on stage she conveyed perfectly the angst, desperation and commitment to her daughter . The scene where she confronts Galvin…led to a collective intake of breath from the assembled audience……. The set was very impressive…. The incidental music provided by Lynette Webster lightened the mood and was the perfect addition to the overall production… Will good overcome evil? Get yourself a ticket and go and watch this masterpiece for yourself.”

“Set in the Irish enclave of Boston…the audience are immersed in a tale of meandering alibis and deception… each performer with shining charisma and/or excellent comedic approach.Holly Jackson Walters steals the show with her portrayal of Nurse Stampanatto – a paramountal figure in the courtroom proceedings. Her innocent disposition and naivety cause her to make a revelation which completely upheaves the case, sending it in a shocking twist. THE VERDICT is a thoroughly enjoyable piece of piece that turns a courtroom drama into a riveting story.”

“Last night’s performance of “The Verdict” kept us all spellbound. I don’t believe I have ever sat in such a quiet auditorium. You could have heard a pin drop while we all remained in silence listening to every word. …….It was a very balanced cast led magnificently by Ian Kelsey as the lawyer Frank Galvin, his performance was mesmerising, aided and abetted by Denis Lill playing Moe Katz, their extensive acting abilities shone through.

Paul Opacic, Christhopher Ettridge, Richard Walsh, Karen Drury and Anne Kavanagh all deserve a mention for their excellent performances. Michael Lunney not only had two parts, but he was also the Director and Designer and a co-founder of The Middle Ground Theatre Company who produced this excellent tour. I must watch out for future productions of the company. Plymouth Theatre Royal are to be congratulated for being part of this brilliant event. 5 STARS”

“Ian Kelsey gives a fine performance as the lawyer Frank Galvin,shambling, half-cut and a prey to his emotions, this is excellent work and in his summing up to the jury (the audience) he has everyone in the palm of his hand. As his hypochondriac friend and sidekick, Denis Lill shows just what a brilliant character actor he is….it is a joy to see such skill on display. Christopher Ettridge another seasoned performer, is also on top form as the defence barrister….There is good work too from Richard Walsh doubling as the bishop and the judge and an excellent cameo from Holly Jackson Walters.
Director Michael Lunney not only co-founded Middle Ground Theatre Co, but also directs and designed the play and found time to take on two roles- all power to him. Lunney crafts the tension well and, quite literally, you could have heard a pin drop in the final exposition, such was the atmosphere created…….quite superb. An excellent addition to the courtroom drama, “The Verdict” is given a first-rate production with performances to match. A tense, taut and satisfying piece of theatre. 4 STARS”


“Very Watchable Hollywood-brought-to-stage………..all elements of the successful and popular courtroom drama are here……the wonderfully acerbic, and luckily available, Lionel Thompson MD (a show-stealing performance from Okon Jones).”