Platform 8’s production of ‘Rough Justice’ shows the gripping tale of TV personality James Highwood, who has admitted to killing his handicapped son, and is trying to convince the jury that he is guilty of manslaughter… not murder. This intense battle of dramatic ping pong left me infuriated for innocent James, played by Mark Hale. The almost too convincing barrister Margaret Casely, played by Alexia Jones, was a force to be reckoned with. Jones was a true representation of what a ruthless barrister is supposed to resemble, however this fiery imitation, mixed in with the red faced judge and a high pitch voice, created an uncomfortable atmosphere. This moral dimension of right and wrong created a boxing ring of emotions, that I, as part of the audience, was not prepared for.
The set design, lighting and sound were very well done for this production, and I think that it was the perfect choice of setting for the play. I loved how part of the audience sat at the side were immersed into the play, making them the jury, and even one audience member had to read the verdict from a card given to him. I was very impressed with the news montage the cast had made to create context and understanding within the performance. But, I wanted to see more character relationships being built, which I couldn’t grasp in the first act. In the second act, the play’s momentum picked up and I began to see the true talent of Hale and especially Hayley Fenton, who played his wife Jean Highwood. I thought that Fenton was a subtle, yet enthralling character, who sat on the bench for most of the match, but turned out to be an imperative role. The ending, for me was inevitable but heartbreaking, and left us all remembering, that this play is a reflection of a moral, ethical dilemma that many are still facing today. And that harsh, sad reality, was truly given a punch in the gut by this cast. I was left feeling like a child that had woken from a nightmare, coming out of the theatre to realise that it was all just a play.