"Eloquent satirist tackles scandalous vendetta"
by Jill Lawrie for remotegoat on 06/02/19

Editor and lead cartoonist of Private Eye Ian Hislop and Nick Newman have followed their previous play “The Wipers Times” with another that takes inspiration from real events. This time around “Trial By Laughter” brings the untold story to life of provocative pamphleteer William Hone. The satirical bookseller and publisher stood trial in December 1817 charged with seditious libel and blasphemy, and the playwrights have had access to the original trial transcripts.
This poverty-stricken, unassuming father of 8 ridiculed the lustful Prince Regent, mocked the Government and parodied the Lord’s Prayer and The Ten Commandments. His lack of funds forced him to represent himself and his defence drew on historical precedents and humour. This highly popular figure overturned not one but three consecutive trials, making him an important forerunner for the freedom of the press as we know it today.

The cast of ten is headed by Joseph Prowen who shines as the impoverished campaigner, prepared to risk everything to protect freedom of speech. He is ably supported by Peter Losasso taking the role of caricaturist George Cruikshank. Jeremy Lloyd delights as the obese and corrupt libertine Prince Regent as he comically romps and chases his well-endowed ladies. A strong ensemble take on all the other characters.

Designer Dora Schweitzer’s attractive wood-panelled set with fast-forwarding central clock slips seamlessly between courtroom and tavern, and coupled with authentic period costumes and clever sound effects, she admirably recreates these obscure judicial battles from an unsung hero.

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