JUDICIAL REVIEW - A Play
It is the year 2000 and Sir Jerald Noakes, a leading City of London business tycoon, has fallen foul of both his own and the prevailing institutional greed. Very much a 21st century phenomenon, it seems that he has been chosen as a scapegoat by the British establishment, and soundly trounced for his misdemeanours. The fact that he is not from an old established UK family might have something to do with it, or that he is the upstart son of an émigré family emanating from somewhere in central Europe. The play begins in court, where it appears Sir Jerald, having been found extremely guilty on all counts, is now awaiting his sentence. The play makes a mockery of money and the way it alters people’s attitudes towards one another; in this case, the piffling sum of £50 million. As the play progresses, the audience is introduced to the fictional actors who all have their own stories to tell, and who are all baffled by the amount of money and greed involved. It also juxtaposes a previous court case – experienced by a member of the fictional cast – which happened during the dark days prior to the 1967 Sexual Offences Act. The play within the play – written by a fictional Irish member of the Socialist Workers Party – is being performed at Reading University. It is one of the few places in the UK that still accepts and enjoys left-wing theatre and, as the play progresses, The Theatre of the Absurd. The director of the play has misgivings about the way it is progressing and both he and the writer – who seems to be permanently full of angst – are at loggerheads over the message the play is sending out to the audience. The director is worried about its political correctness, but the writer is not concerned at all with controversy, because of the emotional baggage he is carrying around, his working class roots, and his life experience. By halfway, it is discovered that Sir Jerald is terminally ill, and – out of compassion – he is released from prison by the Home Secretary. On release, and due to his rapid decline, everywhere he looks he is surrounded by treachery and humbug. No longer a tough nut, with his dictatorship now seemingly over, and in despair, he comes to realise that - during a lifetime in big business - he has only been loved for his money. But however much Sir Jerald’s tormentors believe they have him at their mercy, he still preserves a powerful and humiliating weapon, a final card, which he believes will allow him to die in peace.
Judicial Review - A play by Patrick Brigham
Born in Berkshire England to an old Reading family, having attended an English Public School and a stint at college, the author Patrick Brigham went into real estate. After the economic crash of 1989 he licked his wounds, wrote two books and in 1993 decided to finally abandon London, the UK's casino economy and he moved to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. As the Editor in Chief of the first English Language news magazine in Sofia - between 1995 and 2000 - and as a journalist, he witnessed the political changes in this once hard core communist country and personally knew most of the political players, including the old Communist Dictator Todor Zhivkov and his successors, Zhelev and Stoyanov.
The natural home of political intrigue, Bolshevism and the conspiracy theory, Bulgaria proved to be quite a challenge, but for many of its citizens the transition was also very painful. Despite this, Patrick Brigham personally managed to survive these political changes and now lives peacefully in Northern Greece, writing mystery novels. A writer for many years, he has recently written four good crime fiction books including, Herodotus – The Gnome of Sofia, Judas Goat – The Kennet Narrow Boat Mystery, Abduction – An Angel over Rimini, and The Dance of Dimitrios. He has also published a play called Judicial Review.
Confirming that the truth is very often stranger than fiction, Eastern Europe has proved to be Patrick Brigham’s inspiration for writing good mystery books. Much of his writing has been influenced by 20 years spent in the Balkans and the plethora of characters in his writing, are redolent of many past communist political intrigues in Bulgaria. But he also goes back to his English roots in his play, which is about money, greed and redemption
EXTRACT FROM JUDICIAL REVIEW _ Act 1 Scene 1
Dressed, as one might expect, in a pinstriped City suit, he sits in the dock in a very nonchalant, but resigned way, talking to his solicitor and two barristers. They are all nodding at him as they receive his instructions concerning the next step in the proceedings. The judge will shortly return to pass sentence.
Court Usher: ‘Will you be upstanding for his Honour Lord Justice Cohen.’
The court rises and the prisoner stands – a rather vulnerable figure, with his hands crossed as though he is wearing handcuffs, which he is not.
The judge is not as severe as one might expect, but seems extremely affable and agreeable, despite the court setting and general demeanour of the court officials. He seats himself, but keeps adjusting his apparel because he is hot. He then whispers something to the court usher who disappears, returning with a bottle of drinking water and a glass. The judge mouths ‘Thank you very much’ but quite inaudibly. There seems to be a lot of silent messing about before the court settles down. The judge then coughs loudly.
The Judge: ‘Prisoner at the bar, you have been found guilty by your peers of insider dealing, institutional fraud and unprofessional conduct, and it is my duty to ask you if there is any reason why I should not pronounce sentence upon you today, and if there is anything you might wish to say to the court in mitigation of the offences for which you have been duly tried and found guilty.’
Mr Mosley-Smythe decorously rises. He is the leader of the two defending barristers and firmly holding the lapels of his gown with both hands, he stands before the judge with a smug and humourless look on his face and proceeds to address the judge in a pompous way. He has a Marlborough, Cavalry and Oxford accent, and he rounds off all his vowels and can’t pronounce his Rs properly.
Mr Mosley-Smythe: ‘My Lord, my client Sir Jerald Noakes is a man who has had an illustrious career in the City of London and until now has led a blameless life. He is devoted to his family and has given much of his time and money to charitable causes. I would also like to say that my client, although already a wealthy man, is very discreet and has never been one for ostentatious living. Other than his family home in Huntercombe Park, together with a small villa in Greece, he does not outwardly display his success in business. All his financial interests are well known and in the public domain. Lady Noakes – his loyal wife of many years – does however have a small apartment in Cannes, which in the past was used during school holidays when their son was small.’
The Judge: ‘Quite so, Mr Mosley-Smythe, but has your client shown any remorse or indeed offered to restore any of this enormous sum of money?’
Mr Mosley-Smythe: ‘Yes, my Lord, and he has recently restored all of his profits from this unfortunate deal.’
The Judge: ‘Surely you mean his ill-gotten gains, do you not, Mr Mosley- Smythe?’
Mr Mosley-Smythe: ‘As you wish, my Lord. But a Panamanian company has paid back over £50 million to Sir Jerald’s principals and he has also confirmed his willingness to go to prison – should your Lordship so desire – at his own expense, as a private prisoner, under provisions made in the 1997 Private Prisons Act.’