CLIVE Mantle gives a powerful portrayal of alcoholic lawyer Frank Galvin, in The Verdict, a US courtroom drama directed and designed by Michael Lunney, at Salisbury Playhouse this week The play, written by Barry Reed, involves a cast of 16 actors as we observe Galvin’s compelling legal struggle to win compensation for his client, Deborah Ann Doherty, a mother whose permanent vegetative state is alleged to have resulted from medical malpractice four years earlier.

A prelude, as the audience assembles, hints at Galvin’s personal confusion. His lack of success in recent cases casts doubt on any hope of a satisfactory outcome. Mrs McDaid (Nuala Walsh) could settle out of court but, with her daughter’s three children to raise, could such a sum be adequate?

Excellent sets switch the action from Galvin’s office to Meehan’s bar, courtroom chambers and the formality of a Boston courtroom where the case for compensation seems destined to crumble without substantial supportive evidence.

The involvement of the Catholic Church, which runs the hospital, the Bishop (Richard Walsh), eminent doctors (Tom Roberts and Michael Lunney) and an expert witness (Okon Jones) all enhance the case’s complexity.

Can the credibility of Natalie Stampanello (Eugenia Caruso) swing the verdict?

Jack Shepherd, as Galvin’s mentor, Peter Harding as Edward Concannon, the defendant’s attorney, and Cassie Bancroft as Donna, the barmaid, enhance the impact of this powerful story, adapted for the stage by Margaret May Hobbs. Incidental music is by Lynette Webster.