Observing a trial in Court No. 1 at the Old Bailey has always been a dream of mine. I never expected that the first time I entered Court No.1 would be to watch members of the Bar, Judiciary and the City perform songs and sketches!

This run of Trial and Error (18-21 March 2024) marked 10 years since the late Anthony Arlidge KC and former Head of Chambers HH Peter Rook KC first turned Court No. 1 at the Old Bailey into a theatre for a few March evenings. This set of performances focused on how the state sought to intervene in trials.

The audience was treated to a series of musical numbers and re-enactments of various cases, with HH Peter Rook KC narrating throughout. The performance began with Robert Hubert, the watchmaker from France who was executed following his confession of starting the Great Fire of London in 1666, with the cast donning 17th century full-bottomed wigs and costumes. With interludes of song, including a rendition of 'Diamonds are a Girl’s (Queen’s) Best Friend', we were taken through key moments in legal history, from the Cato Street Conspiracy to George Blake’s infamous escape from Wormwood Scrubs.

A re-enactment I found incredibly interesting was the case of osteopath Stephen Ward and what became the Profumo affair. With a focus on the testimony of Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, and before the heart-wrenching result trial leading to Ward’s suicide, the audience learned the ins and outs of one of the most important miscarriages of justice in British history.

The performances were interactive and brilliantly devised, with the cast appearing at the dock, in the middle of the audience, to answer to the court. RLC’s own David Etherington KC featured in several performances, alongside other amateur performers, showcasing the musical and theatrical talent within the legal profession.

It was a brilliant night, for a very worthy cause, benefitting The Schools Consent Project, The Sheriffs’ & Recorder’s Fund, aiding prison leavers, and Pan Intercultural Arts supporting the vulnerable through arts for social change. Every person involved in Trial and Error deserves a huge round of applause for an insightful, entertaining, and ever-amusing evening.