"A Time to Kill" may be a new play, but it offers a traditional setting for a courtroom drama. Credit: Carol Rosegg
The Great White Way is currently home to two courtroom thrillers, although they’re stylistically different.
“The Winslow Boy” is based on a true story about how spectacular drama develops from miniscule charges levied against one young boy at school, though the legal ramifications play out in the affected family’s sitting room. A 1946 British play by Terence Rattigan, it’s reminiscent of last year’s “The Heiress” or perhaps “An Enemy of the People.” Its keenest element is how it’s not at all about the Winslow boy, but rather about family, community and dignity — with a splash of romantic drama thrown in for good measure. The final scene of this quick-paced and captivating drama, starring Roger Rees and Lindsay Posner, is its final scene, which carries more sexual tension in just a few minutes than does the entirety of the new “Romeo and Juliet” four blocks away. www.roundabouttheatre.org
Meanwhile, “A Time to Kill” is more traditional, though it's also more modern: It takes place primarily inside a courtroom, staged so that the viewers become the jury to which the opposing attorneys play. This introduces an element of audience participation, with frequent exclamations and expressions elicited from the house. Starring Sebastian Arcelus and Patrick Page, the story stays mostly loyal to John Grisham’s 1988 first novel, though playwright Rupert Wallace adds laugh-out-loud one-liners and plot twists to keep the material fresh. Intense, emotional and timeless, this play seems like it’s overdue for an appearance onstage. www.atimetokillonbroadway.com