Review: Rough Justice @ New Theatre
One thing is certain; we British do love a good courtroom drama.
We lap them up along with murder mysteries and other detective stories. Sleuthing is its own reward. Could we ever give up on sussing-out just who exactly is the killer?
Rough Justice by Terence Frisby at times lost its edge and become mildly uninteresting. James Highwood is convicted of killing his handicapped nine-month-old baby. But is he the killer? Tom Conti as James was his usual self. He is one of our best actors. I love the way he slurs his lines as if almost drunk and the very dry sense of humour he injects into any role. But it felts at times he was fluffing his lines a little too much, taking away some of the great importance of his defence. The set was striking, making us feel we were really in the Old Bailey. The sliding walls made for a great effect to scale down the drama to depict the holding room in which James would stew.
This play was intended to show the importance that the jury is as an idea. But should a group of random strangers determine the fate of one person? In the play, there are no actors playing the jury (apart from someone declaring the verdict behind the audience at the end of the play). As you watch more, you realise that it is you as an audience who are the jury. It was after the applause that Conti asked us to raise our hands to see if we would have though he was guilty, only judging on what was discussed in the court and not via the twist that occurred in the plot. As it turned out, we were a ‘hung jury’ with about equal votes for either decision. One of the cast, pointing out that in Glasgow every night it was very much a case of "Guilty!".
I voted guilty, but with my shaky views on the jury system (I have yet to have jury duty, but my brother has) I could have gone either way. Who’s to know how we would have taken James’ claim had we actually been in a real jury?
I hereby summon this play to be a slightly above average theatre going experience and that it should reside at the New Theatre for the rest of the week. *bangs gavel*