Legal Fictions: The Dock Brief / Edwin

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Previewed 21 February 2008, Opened 28 February 2008, Closed 26 April 2008 at the Savoy Theatre in London

Two plays by John Mortimer - The Dock Brief and Edwin - presented under the title Legal Fictions in London starring Edward Fox and directed by Christopher Morehan.

In John Mortimer's The Dock Brief, an incompetent barrister, Morganhall is asked to represent the lugubrious Mr Fowle who confesses to murdering his jovial wife. Although the two of them rehearse a masterly defence in the cell, when they reach the courtroom everything goes horribly wrong. In Edwin, retired High Court Judge, Fennimore Truscott can't break the habit of trying as many people as he can - in his imagination. But when he turns his overly suspicious mind towards his wife's friendship with the next door neighbour, he opens up a can of worms.

John Mortimer was a highly highly successful barrister for almost forty years and was one of the country's best-known advocates for civil liberties and free speech. In Legal Fictions he brings his insider knowledge to these two hilarious plays of legal drama. The Dock Brief and Edwin use barbed wit and judicial humour to show that the law can make an ass of any of us. This production comes into London's West End following a regional tour from November 2007 to February 2008.

The cast for Legal Fictions in London features Edward Fox along with Nicholas Woodeson and Polly Adams. The production is directed by Christopher Morehan. Edward Fox's recent West End theatre credits include George Bernard Shaw's comedy You Never Can Tell (Garrick Theatre 2005) and Simon Gray's play Old Masters (Harold Pinter Thatre 2004).

"The Dock Brief, first performed in 1957, takes place in the cell of a man who admits he murdered his wife. Under the 'dock brief ' system - a precursor to legal aid - he has been assigned a barrister on the verge of retirement who has been waiting his entire career for a case and is woefully incompetent. Fox, no stranger to a fruity vowel, pulls out his most elongated ones to play a man puffed up with the over-confidence of a classical education but too dim to find his own client in a locked dungeon. It's a magnificent, cuff-shaking performance which manages to invoke sympathy for the amoral, patronising "bairrister"... In the second play, Edwin, which dates from 1982, Fox also plays an elderly man of the law - a boorish retired judge who is convinced his wife has been carrying on with the next-door neighbour... Fox, never offstage, throws himself into both parts with gusto, but the decision to perform these two longish pieces together places a heavy burden on him... When an audience claps at a scenechange mistaking it for the curtaincall, it's a sign that the end is too long coming." The Daily Express

"John Mortimer, himself a QC, has never been afraid of saying that the law is an ass, and lawyers frequently asinine. The Dock Brief provides diverting proof of both. But it's also irretrievably oldfashioned and shows both its age (it was written in 1957) and its origins (a radio play)... Edwin, which Mortimer wrote in 1982, again for radio, is much more colourful in every aspect, being set in an English country garden... Fox is priceless as the crusty old fogey, torturing vowels, strangling consonants, swilling words around his mouth as if they were vintage claret and peering at the modern world with a mixture of contempt and bewilderment from beneath eyebrows that should surely be Grade I listed." The Mail on Sunday

"In its time, The Dock Brief made an impact as a satire of the legal system; but Morgenhall, the unsuccessful barrister who takes on the defence of a wife-killer, is a touch implausible today... The second play, Edwin, a later and more sophisticated piece... Edward Fox's performance is priceless: a crusty, palaeolithic beast, his nostrils still quivering for blood. Fox is becoming a national treasure now, like Mortimer and Alan Bennett." The Sunday Times

For six decades John Mortimer has been one of Britain's most prolific and diverse writers and for almost forty years he was also a highly successful barrister and one of the country's best-known advocates for civil liberties and free speech. As a writer, John Mortimer is best known for Rumpole of the Bailey. His other credits include the television adaptation of Brideshead Revisited; the screenplay for Tea With Mussolini; and his autobiographical stage play A Voyage Round My Father which was also adapted for television.

Legal Fictions in London at the Savoy Theatre previewed from 21 February 2008, opened on 28 February 2008 and closed on 26 April 2008.