Theatre: A modern witch hunt
Inherit The Wind King's Head, London
Friday 03 September 1999
All quivering boater-hatted, banner-waving excitement as they form a reception committee to greet the big-shot Bible-thumping prosecutor, Childs's large cast create a lively sense of a tight provincial community both flattered and scandalised to be in the national spotlight. The prejudice the defence was up against is also powerfully communicated in a prayer meeting held on the eve of the trial and announced with a comic contempt for impartiality at the jury vetting. The cast are whipped by the preacher into an ecstasy of Creationist fervour. "Curse the sinner," shrieked a crone, pointing a bony finger directly at your blushing critic.
But the play also shows that this was a trial where outside influence and media interest began to weaken, for good and ill, a community's power to decide its own affairs. A primitive microphone is set up in the court so that the proceedings can be broadcast nationally, and the town is flooded by reporters including a celebrated cynical journalist (John Warnaby) based on HL Mencken. Indeed, both the principle attorneys are star imports. Shamelessly populist with his cheesy, crowd-pleasing grins, George Sewell's splendid Brady is a famous political leader who has failed in three attempts at the presidency. The defence is led by Larry Lamb's clever and humane Drummond, a fictionalised version of the US's renowned trial lawyer Clarence Darrow.
Since right lies predominantly with one side, this is not the tensest or most searching moral drama. But there is pleasure in seeing Drummond, denied his own expert witnesses, calling the chief prosecutor to the stand and, while quizzing him on his Bible-expertise, exposing the ludicrous incoherence of his beliefs. A play that once again puts the present on trial.
To 2 Oct, 0171-226 1916
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 2 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Spiritual leader allegedly manipulated 400 men into removing testicles to be 'closer to God'
Poldark star Heida Reed says show is not that racy: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
Broadchurch series 3: David Tennant and Olivia Colman to return for third season, ITV confirms
Harris' List of Covent Garden Ladies: Georgian guide to London sex workers acquired by Wellcome Collection
House of Cards season 3: Claire Underwood is based on an eagle, says Robin Wright
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut