Nearly 100 years after Agatha Christie created her, Romaine Vole endures as one of the most complex, unsettling characters in modern fiction. She first appeared in the short story version of "Witness for the Prosecution" in 1925; then in the play and movie versions in the 1950s. Immortalized by Marlene Dietrich in the 1957 movie, she's been played by Diana Rigg, Andrea Riseborough, and Mary Kerridge.
Her character bears a lot of weight, showing prejudices around gender, class, and nationality. A German in war-weary London, she's not trustworthy - nor transparent. A woman who speaks with force and clarity, she's neither lady nor servant. She's still, yet powerful; loving, yet dubious; truthful, yet -- lying?
When she first appears, as the wife of the man accused of murdering a spinster, we assume she will confirm her husband's assertion that he didn't do it: he returned home that evening from visiting the older woman (Emily French)- on time, unperturbed, clean as a whistle.
Instead, in a strange twist, she turns on him, and ends up as a witness for the prosecution, upholding their evidence that he was late, bloody, and agitated. However, she disturbs us, and the jury, with her fierce demeanor, her unwillingness to be agreeable, her accent and her strange history in Germany.
In TV and movie versions, there was a backstory around Romaine as a performer - an actress, a singer, a performer - and all that baggage that brought with it. The play doesn't go there, but there's a sense of something wrong about Romaine - and her marriage and her husband.
Kristen Heider as our Romaine Vole
AFD is lucky to have Kristen Heider as our Romaine. She brings a stillness, and an excellent German accent, to the character. Kristen has wanted to play Romaine since she was 10 or 11—she can’t remember exactly—and growing into a rabid mystery fan (as opposed to an E. coli-infected one).
A theatrical Jill-of-all-trades, Kristen is relatively new to the Boston area. She is a company member of Flat Earth Theatre where she has appeared in "Fat Pig" (IRNE Award Nomination, Best Supporting Actress in a Play-Fringe) and "Radium Girls," in addition to taking on many other on- and offstage roles. Other local credits include productions with WholeTone Opera, the Hub Theatre Company of Boston, and Boston Public Works.
Kristen also enjoys voice acting and can be heard in various announcements about town, on a number of audio dramas, and occasionally live with The Post-Meridian Radio Players. When she's not acting or otherwise making theater, Kristen is a music librarian, singer, and bass trombonist with a deep and abiding love for tea.