Rough Justice,

Wyvern Theatre,


Runs until Saturday September 29.

Tickets: £18 to £22.50 from 01793 524481.

Rough Justice is as smooth as a barrister’s silk.

Written by Terence Frisby and starring the much-loved actor Tom Conti, this beautiful rant against the British justice system has a rapier-sharp script.

It is a real coup for the Wyvern Theatre to attract such a big star as Tom, and he woos the audience with his warmth and ingenuous charm in the role the part of James Highwood, a famous media figure. His presence on stage is electric; from start to finish you can’t tear your eyes away as he fences with judge and barrister and appeals to the jury for understanding and their interpretation of the law.

The basic plot of a man accused of killing his severely brain-damaged baby touches upon some weighty subjects - mercy killing, religion and the law of the land. Terence Frisby apparently wanted to write the play in defence of the jury system but it exploded into much more than a fencing match. It deals with all human emotions, raw and ripped from behind the mask of what we consider civilised and socially acceptable. But, most importantly, it makes you think.

Yet despite the serious premise, the play abounds with humour, if not belly-laugh comedy. It is simply razor-sharp wit delivered with terrific timing.

With Tom at the helm, the rest of the cast step up to the mark with some sparkling performances, including David Michaels as Jeremy Ackroyd, James Highwood’s solicitor. With his square cut jaw and classic good looks, David usually plays a smooth-talking, suave sophisticate, but he shows his true versatility as an actor here as the despairing solicitor who suffers agonies every time his client antagonises the judge.

Tom Conti is also the co-producer of Rough Justice, alongside Tom Kinninmont, who produced Jesus, My Boy, with Tom in the leading role in the West End. This shows Tom’s total belief in the drama.

And the dramatic effects are just that... dramatic. I jumped every time.

Usually when you leave a theatre, the volume of chatter is loud as everyone wants to express their opinion. In this case it was strangely silent as everyone asked themselves the question: ‘What would I do?’ - Flicky Harrison