Review: Mock Trial @ Oxford Town Hall - 'Ad-lib courtroom production guilty of fun in the first degree'


Judge Ofthat – pronounced ‘Off-tat’ (Harry Househam) greets every ‘jury’ member as we arrive at The Old Court Room in Oxford Town Hall.

Immediately, we are condemned as criminals and handed arbitrary sentences for imagined misdemeanours – all before the show has even started.

As counsel and court ushers show us to our seats, themed music such as Jailhouse Rock is played as a harassed-looking Chesca Forristal scurries up to us. In her best Oxbridge voice, she asks if we could possibly write down some ‘crimes’. She has accidentally just shredded all the evidence for today’s cases. “You know, wearing Crocs on a Tuesday, that sort of thing.” Her impressive facial expressions and chat with the crowd elicit laughter.

A mostly improvised comedy court show, the audience are encouraged before the trial to bring in items to be used as evidence. With law books and evidence bags at the ready, the six young performers are all in character, looking smart in their court dress.

Once proceedings began the actors quick-wittedly bounced off each other, as Harry read out crimes provided by us for Chesca, Oliver Mills, Ed Scrivens, Charlie Powell and Vicky Hawley to hilariously re-enact, before prosecution and defence made their arguments and random sentencing dispensed.

Playing out an ensemble of characters for each case with varying comical accents (a particularly good Australian effort by Vicky for example) – each actor was tested by crimes including Brexit and curvy bananas, as well as by the judge, who interrupted to disapprove of their wording.

Cast members were skilled and confident, tickling the spectators with ad-libs.

Catch it next on Jan 17th.