Ian Hislop and Nick Newman create new satirical play

Thursday 3rd May 2018, 2:28pm

  • Ian Hislop and Nick Newman have announced a new satirical play called Trial By Laughter
  • It focuses on the life of 1800s publisher and satirist William Hone, who was put on trial for his parodies
  • The play will launch at The Watermill Theatre in Bagnor in September, before heading on a UK tour
Trial By Laughter.

The Wipers Times writers Ian Hislop and Nick Newman have announced a new satirical play.

Trial By Laughter, which is about the life of 1800s satirist William Hone, will launch at The Watermill Theatre (Bagnor, near Newbury) in September, before heading on a UK tour.

Producers say: "Following the sell-out success of The Wipers Times in the West End and across the country, Ian Hislop and Nick Newman have once again taken inspiration from real life events for their new play Trial By Laughter, based on their critically acclaimed original BBC Radio 4 drama of the same name."

Trial By Laughter.Talking about the plot, the producers explain: "In 1817 bookseller, publisher and satirist William Hone stood trial for parodying religion, the despotic government and the libidinous monarchy. The only crime he had committed was to be funny. In 2018, the satirists Ian Hislop and Nick Newman rediscover this forgotten hero of free speech, and ask if just over two hundred years later our press has any greater freedom."

Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, who work together at Private Eye magazine, say: "In an age of 'fake news' and increased censorship, free speech and press freedom are still under threat as they were 200 years ago when William Hone took on the might of Royalty and a bullying Tory government. Hone dared to ask 'Is laughter treason?' - raising issues which are as relevant now as they were then.

"It's a tale of lawyers, lechers and libel - with added sedition and blasphemy. It is immensely exciting to bring this world to life on stage, with this funny, inspiring and true story of a satirical David versus Goliath."

The production, directed by Caroline Leslie, will be developed with The Watermill Theatre before playing at the venue for six weeks from 17th September - 27th October 2018. Following this, it will be heading on a UK tour visiting Guildford, Ipswich, Cheltenham and Brighton, with further venues to be announced. Casting will be announced nearer the time.

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