Friday, April 19, 2024

Leading the Witness by Scott Fivelson

The thriller genre emerged in the early 20th Century. Over the years the genre developed its own clichés and tropes, so that it is rare one sees anything original when it comes to thrillers regardless of the medium. When something in the thriller genre, whether it is a novel, movie, or play, comes out that is starkly original, it is then worthy of notice. This is certainly the case with the one-act play Leading the Witness by Scott Fivelson.

Leading the Witness centres on Maddy, a former stripper, now tragically blind, who had the misfortune of witnessing the murder of her roommate in their own apartment. The killer is still at large, and as a result, Maddy is under protection detail until such time as the killer can be caught. Maddy does not particularly get along with the police assigned to protect her, until she is finally assigned a detective who has a good deal in common with her. Their developing relationship and the danger from the killer still at large are at the heart of Leading the Witness.

Not only is the premise of Leading the Witness original, but the play is a deft blend of suspense and love story. What is more, Maddy is a fresh break from many heroines in thrillers. She is quick-witted and self-reliant, while at the same time feminine. There is real chemistry between her and John, the detective ultimately assigned to protect her. The identity of the killer is a thread that runs throughout the play, and when their identity is revealed it is a surprise, but at the same time makes total sense. Leading the Witness brings to mind classic thrillers and mysteries, while at the same time bringing something new to the genre.

Leading the Witness  premiered at the Upstairs at the Gatehouse Theatre in London on July 23, 2012, starring James Tormé. It is published by Hen House Press.

Cast photo from Leading the Witness at the Accidental Theatre in Belfast in 2019.

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