Ballarat National Theatre


James Highwood is on the stand for the murder of his handicapped child. He conducts his own defence, admitting responsibility but pleading manslaughter' The battle to have his intentions understood brings him into conflict with the prosecutor, a well-known pro-lifer'. This adroitly written courtroom drama premiered in 1994 with Diana Quick & Martin Shaw.


PC Ramsden Brad Mitchell
Margaret Casely QC Peppa Sindar
James Highwood Peter Nethercote
The Judge Jill Dunne
Jerry Ackroyd Bob Thurman
Dr. Simon Kerr Brian McClelland
Dr. Hannah Radzinski Katrina Hill
Jean Highwood Linda Ogier


Legal Advisor Peter Jacobs
Coat of Arms Tammy Jones
Photography Brian Coffey
Graphic Design Peter Freund

Production Credits

Directed and Designed by Julian Oldfield
Stage Manager SallyRead and Sarah Kernighan
Lighting Jarrod Le Brocq and Carly May
Sound Recording Michael Zala


Review: Rough Justice
Reviewer: Gail Sjogren

Everyone enjoys a good courtroom drama and this play is one of the best. A gripping exploration of the mercy-killing of a severely brain- damaged baby sounds a pretty grim subject, but excellent performances and a tightly woven script ensure the audience is involved every step of the way. The cast is headed by Peter Nethercote, outstanding as the father accused of the murder of his baby son. By turns aggressive and distraught, he challenges the legal system and enlists our sympathies as he conducts his own defence and locks horns with the prosecutor and the judge.

Peppa Sindar as the prosecutor gives a masterly portrayal of a brilliant barrister, seemingly unsympathetic but showing a human side as well. Jill Dunne's judge is by turns helpful to the difficult defendant and protective of the justice system while always authoritative. The small supporting cast includes Robert Thurman, utterly believable as the defendant's despairing solicitor and Linda Ogier as his emotionally exhausted wife. Sensitive direction by Julian Oldfield ensures the impact of the situation is tightly controlled and the suspense sustained until the very last. Will he be found guilty? Is his action contemptible or justified? As the truth is gradually revealed, the nature of Justice' is shown to be at times rough and always far from simple, though in the long run fair to all.