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COURTROOMS & LEGAL CHALLENGES


While 72 Miles to Go... explores the legal turmoil that many Mexican immigrants face, depictions of courtrooms and legal fights are not new to Roundabout.


Philip Bosco with Nicol Williamson


in Inadmissible Evidence Photo: Martha Swope


Inadmissible Evidence, John Osborne’s play from the 1960s, takes place in a courtroom. The main character, lawyer William Maitland, is presenting evidence (much as a prosecutor would and mostly in long monologues) of his life, which is in utter shambles. Roundabout’s production


in 1981 brought both the original Maitland—Nicol Williamson—and the original director—Anthony Page—from the London production of 1964. Also starring was Philip Bosco (as the Judge), an actor who performed regularly in Roundabout’s productions in the 1980s (and starred in another courtroom drama, Twelve Angry Men). Writing for The New York Times, Frank Rich said of the show, "this marathon performance is a daring, uncompromising feat: Mr. Williamson ushers us into the consciousness of one of the postwar theater's most unappetizing characters and simply refuses to let us escape. If Inadmissible Evidence is an evening of almost pure pain, it is honest pain, truthful pain— pain that is raised by brilliant acting to the level of art."


Terence Rattigan’s The Winslow Boy explores a student who is wrongfully accused of theft. A powerful solicitor is hired and, in order to prove the boy’s innocence, puts the boy through an intense interrogation. After an extensive courtroom fight, the boy is absolved and the case closed. The Winslow Boy is one of the first Roundabout productions to tour. After the production in the fall of 1980, a limited tour presented by special arrangement with Lucille Lortel Productions, Inc. sent the show to the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, WA (February 3, 1981, to March 1, 1981); Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, PA (April 1981); and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Eisenhower Theatre, in Washington, D.C. (April 28, 1981, to May 23, 1981). Roundabout revived the play again in 2013, with a cast that included Roger Rees, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Cumpsty, and Alessandro Nivola as the powerful barrister, Sir Robert Morton.


The Company of Twelve Angry Men Photo: Joan Marcus


Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose was a breakaway hit for Roundabout in 2004 and won the 2005 Drama Desk award for Outstanding Revival of a Play. A subsequent tour took the production to cities across the United States from 2006 to 2008. In his review of the 2004 revival, writing for The New York Times, Ben Brantley said “[t]his tidy portrait of clashing social attitudes in a jury room definitely creaks with age. But somehow the creaks begin to sound like soothing music, a siren song from a period of American drama when personalities were drawn in clean lines, the moral was unmistakable and the elements of a plot clicked together like a jigsaw puzzle without a single missing piece.”


Rebecca Hall in Machinal Photo: Joan Marcus


In 2013, Roundabout staged a production of Sophie Treadwell’s play from 1928, Machinal, based on the real-life convicted husband-killer Ruth Snyder. The last two scenes or “episodes” are titled “The Law” and “The Machine” and take place in the courtroom and within the death- row prison cell of character Young Woman, played by Rebecca Hall. Michael Cumpsty played Husband, so despised by Young Woman that the only way she thought she could free herself from him was through the act of murder.•


For more information on the Roundabout Archives, visit https://archive.roundabouttheatre.org or contact Tiffany Nixon, Roundabout Archivist, at archives@roundabouttheatre.org


22 ROUNDABOUT THEATRE COMPANY


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