The Upton Theatre Goers went to the Oxford Playhouse in November to see Rough Justice with Tom Conti as James Highwood and a small supporting cast. The author is Terence Frisby. Who he? Well he had a career of writing for the cinema and screen and Rough Justice is the creation of a master craftsman. It is a courtroom drama, with the clever and occasional insertion of the Courthouse cell where we are privy to the thoughts of James and his wife, and their solicitor.
We were gripped from the start. Tom Conti takes the part of a television journalist who has made a career of challenging the British Justice System. Now it is he who is challenged. He stands in the dock as the result of the death of his youngest child. Aged two years the child Is catastrophically handicapped as a result of congenital brain damage. The outlook for his future is grim. James enters a plea of Manslaughter. He describes the evening he placed a pillow over his son’s body, and presses down until the child is still.
The battle for the outcome is for a sentence of Life or Leniency. The Judge, the prosecuting Q.C. and Highwood representing himself are the protagonists.
The Judge stresses that the sentence whether Murder or Manslaughter is entirely in the hands of the jury. Then we find that the audience Is to be the jury.
It is the last twist of a truly dramatic evening.