Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 8:45 pm | Fair 67º


‘The Dock Brief’ a Lunchtime Treat

Savor John Mortimer's one-act tragicomic presented by DIJO Productions.

Local fans of the BBC series Rumpole of the Bailey — and they are legion — will be glad to know that Rumpole’s maker, John Mortimer, will have a play showing in Santa Barbara this week.

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John Mortimer
Victoria Hall Theater and DIJO Productions will continue their delightful series of lunch-hour dramatic readings with a presentation of Mortimer’s one-act tragicomic, The Dock Brief.

The event will take place Wednesday in the Victoria Hall Theater, 33 W. Victoria St. Lunch will be at 12:15 p.m.; the reading will begin at 1 p.m. For tickets, go to or call 800.494.8497.

The Dock Brief began life as a radio play. It was first broadcast in May 1957 and televised with the same cast (Michael Hordern and David Kossoff) four months later. An unsuccessful aging barrister (what the English call a lawyer who actually tries a case, as opposed to a solicitor, who does most of the other work that lawyers do) called Morganhall is asked to represent a wife murderer named Fowle.

Morganhall hopes a not guilty verdict will resuscitate his dismal career and bring him the fame (not to say fortune) that has always eluded him. He constructs what he believes to be a masterly defence and subjects Fowle to an energetic dry run in his cell.

The rehearsal seems to go swimmingly, but when Morganhall and Fowle reach the courtroom, Morganhall’s actual performance is so abysmal that the home secretary grants Fowle a reprieve on the grounds of incompetent representation. The London Times reviewer of the first performance that it “touched that rare dramatic level at which comedy and tragedy are indistinguishable.”

Tickets are $75 for a series subscription (including a bonus performance) or $25 for each event. Senior and group discounts are available.

Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

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