Romaine (or Christine) Vole is a character from The Witness for the Prosecution, who is the wife of Leonard Vole, who is accused of murder, she clearly shows herself as a strong minded person that uses her skills to help her husband.
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD.
1923 Short Story
Romaine is a cold woman that speaks to Mayherne at the home she shares with Vole hearing the devotion Vole has for her makes her disgusted she thinks men as stupid, she reveals that she is married to another man who is in a Vienna Madhouse and that she is a actress and that if she was might contradict what Vole said. In the end she does testify as a Prosecuting Witness which means that Vole's fate is death as they have nothing to prove otherwise. Then Mayherne gets letters from a woman who claims due to Romaine's stealing her man resulted in her disfigurement.
At the court Sir Charles the lawyer confronts Romaine Heilger with the letters and she breaks down freeing Vole. However Mayherne speaks to her later on, he knew she was that woman due the same movement pattern she admits it and confesses Vole's guilt.
The Romaine of the play and the films based on it is older than her book counterpart.
Romaine appears in Act 1 and speak to Sir Wilfred Robards and the newly named Mr Mayhew, she tells the same story Vole said but, Robards and Mayhew clears shown by their less than positive reaction that her statement won't work.
In Act 2 she testifies as a Prosecution Witness, revealing that she lied and was forced to by her husband, he yells to the court that she is lying and it's clear that it's sealing his fate.
In Act 3 she dresses as the Cockney woman and presents Robards with the letters proving Vole's innocents and Romaine's perjury, she explains her reason is revenge after she was disfigured by her ex-boyfriend and before she can give more details she leaves into the fog.
However with the letters Romaine, when confronted snaps and confesses that she has lied.
After Vole is acquitted, Romaine is placed in the courtroom, then Robards and Mayhew are given the truth, Vole appears, he will pay for her Perjury lawyer but when she is talks about doing it for love, then he reveals that he is with someone else (the other woman of the cast list) and that she is means nothing to him.
He warns her that if she speaks about it now, she will be charged as accessory to murder, however in the moment she sees the knife he used to cut his wrist (to claim the blood on his shirt was his not French) and stabs him in the back and says to the empty Judge's Seat "guilty".
While Romaine is renamed Christine for this film, it follows the same route, as the Play there are changes:
- When she speaks to Robards she fails the monocle test which is to see if she was honest enough to deal with the sun in her eyes.
- There is a scene showing how she and Vole met in World War Two where she was singing in a beer garden and the male audience tear her costume.
- The Cockney woman scene is done in Euston Station rather than the chambers.
- When Vole goes leave Christine, she notices the knife to kill him due to Robards' shining his monocle.
Christine was played by Marlene Dietrich.
1982 TV Adaptation
- This version is a near faithful mix of the play and the Movie however there are a few changes to the character:
- Christine's personality is alot more vulnerable in this version and deserves sympathy than Dietrich's version.
- This version has scenes from the original story with the Cockney Woman scene done in the slums.
Christine was played by Dame Diana Rigg.
2016 TV Series
For this production which was faithful to the short story, Romaine was more Vole's age and she was a working actress. She was a child of War a lost soul who found a equal in Vole. She works in the chorus of a theatre where the leading lady Christine Moffat bullies her due to her accent despite the fact she continue reminds her, that she's Austrian not German. After Vole's arrest, she is given Moffat's part, helped in part due to Moffat's disappearance and despite her weak singing voice, she sells the romantic song.
She speaks with Mayhew about Vole, but clearly understands that despite their common law status, her statement would mean nothing without evidence to back her up. So she testifies against Vole, which shocks everyone however Mayhew gets a note to visit a slum and that it will save Vole. There he meets Christine Moffat who is now greatly disfigured, due to Romaine (not her boyfriend in this version) throwing boiling sugar at her, she however managed to gain her letters which shows her as a liar and deceive.
Sir Charles Carter reveals that Romaine is still married to Austrian man and that she lies to the court, she snaps in the courtroom and at Mayhew, when Vole is freed Mayhew speaks to her in the holding cell of his disappointment when she hisses back.
However despite going to jail for Perjury, Vole helped with her defence and they go to France where with a red bob haircut, they married, however Mayhew was at the same hotel, he came to congratulates Vole but upon seeing Romaine, was forced into the room, they revealed the truth that Vole killed French and that Romaine pretended to be Christine who disappeared because she was pregnant, she wasn't married as her last name was her Maiden Name, however when Mayhew called them monsters they mock him as they were scarred survivors from the Great War that killed many of their generation, he is as guilty as he sent Janet McIntyre to the gallows, they didn't want her to die and they toast him as the greatest monster.
Romaine is last seen with Vole going out, when Vole joked about her getting tired of him, she tells him not to be, which is open to the fact she could get rid of him and that she is as cold hearted as she pretended to be.
She was played by Andrea Riseborough.
- The fact that Romaine was the Cockney Woman was kept secret in the play with the audience promised to keep it secret like in The Mousetrap, Christie also suggested that the last cast member The Other Woman was placed in the cast list to trick the audience. (The Other Woman is Vole's new mistress.)
- The play's ending was added by Christie who was displeased by the short story's original ending.
- Dame Diana Rigg is the only actress to appear in another Christie piece, she was Arlena Marshall in 1982's Evil Under the Sun.
- Dietrich went to town with this role, she had a crush on Tyrone Powers, she had Charles Laughton teach her a Cockney accent and had Orsen Wells design the make-up.
- The make-up for Dietrich's cockney woman was toned down, the original make-up made her look like a man.
- The Beer Hall scene was added to show off the famous Dietrich legs and for her to have a song.
- Dietrich and Powers had the biggest age gap with her being 13 years older, followed by Riseborough and Howle with 8 and Bridges and Rigg being the youngest with 3.