Trial By Laughter Tour

Ian Hislop and Nick Newman’s new play Trial By Laughter will tour from September 2018.

Trial By Laughter Tour

Following the sell-out success of The Wipers Times in the West End and across the country, Ian Hislop and Nick Newman have once again taken inspiration from real life events for their new play Trial by Laughter, based on their critically acclaimed original BBC Radio 4 drama of the same name. The production is a Trademark Touring and Watermill Theatre co-production, playing at The Watermill for six weeks from Thursday 20th September – Saturday 27th October 2018. Following this, it will be heading on a UK tour visiting Guildford, Ipswich, Cheltenham and Brighton, with further venues to be announced.

In 1817 bookseller, publisher and satirist William Hone stood trial for parodying religion, the despotic government and the libidinous monarchy. The only crime he had committed was to be funny. In 2018, the satirists Ian Hislop and Nick Newman rediscover this forgotten hero of free speech and ask if just over two hundred years later our press has any greater freedom.

Trial by Laughter Uk Tour
Joseph Prowen, Peter Losasso and Nicholas Murchie in Trial by Laughter. Photo Phillip Tull

The cast includes Helena Antoniou (Lady Hertford), Philippe Edwards (Sidmouth), Jeremy Lloyd (Prince Regent), Peter Losasso (Cruickshank), Nicholas Murchie (Justice Abbott/Duke of York), Joseph Prowen (Hone), Eva Scott (Lady Conyngham/Sarah), Dan Tetsell (Lord Ellenborough).

Satirist, writer and journalist Ian Hislop has been the editor of Private Eye since 1986. He has frequently appeared on Question Time (BBC One), and since 1990 has been team captain on BBC’s Have I Got News For You. At Private Eye he works alongside life-long friend Nick Newman, an award-winning cartoonist and writer, who alongside his role at Private Eye, has been pocket cartoonist for The Sunday Times since 1989. As a scriptwriting duo, Ian and Nick’s work includes five years on Spitting Image (ITV), Harry Enfield and Chums (BBC Two), and My Dad’s The Prime Minister (BBC One), as well as the film A Bunch of Amateurs and The Wipers Times, which won the Broadcast Press Guild Award for single drama, and was nominated for a BAFTA. Trial by Laughter is Ian and Nick’s third play to be co-produced with The Watermill Theatre, with an adaptation of A Bunch of Amateurs and The Wipers Times playing there in the last few years.
Ian Hislop and Nick Newman said:

“In an age of ‘fake news’ and increased censorship, free speech and press freedom are still under threat as they were 200 years ago when William Hone took on the might of Royalty and a bullying Tory government. Hone dared to ask ‘Is laughter treason?’ – raising issues which are as relevant now as they were then. It’s a tale of lawyers, lechers and libel – with added sedition and blasphemy. It is immensely exciting to bring this world to life on stage, with this funny, inspiring and true story of a satirical David versus Goliath.”

Trial by Laughter is a Trademark Touring and Watermill Theatre production and is directed by Caroline Leslie. It is designed by Dora Schweitzer with lighting design by Matt Leventhall and sound by Steve Mayo.

The Wipers Times, also produced by Trademark Touring and The Watermill Theatre, tours again from 28 August, transferring for a second time to the Arts Theatre in the West End in October where it plays a limited season until 1 December 2018.


20 September – 27 October 2018
Watermill Theatre Newbury

29 October – 3 November 2018
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford

5 – 10 November 2018
New Wolsey Theatre

12 – 17 November 2018
Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham

19 – 24 November 2018
Theatre Royal Brighton

21 – 26 January 2019
Malvern Theatre

28 January – 2 February 2019
The Lowry

4 – 9 February 2019
Chichester Festival Theatre

11 – 16 February 2019
King’s Theatre Glasgow

18 – 23 February 2019
Richmond Theatre

25 February – 2 March 2019
Milton Keynes Theatre

4 – 9 March 2019
Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne

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