Trial by Laughter

by Ian Hislop & Newman

Watermill Theatre & UK Tour, from 17 September 2018

General Management and Tour Booking by SFE

Official Site


I ask you, is laughter treason? Surely not!’

Following critical acclaim for The Wipers Times, Ian Hislop and Nick Newman return to The Watermill with the premiere of a new play inspired by extraordinary real-life events.

William Hone, the forgotten hero of free speech, was a bookseller, publisher and satirist. In 1817, he stood trial for ‘impious blasphemy and seditious libel’. The only crime he had committed was to be funny. Worse than that he was funny by parodying religious texts. And worst of all, he was funny about the despotic government and the debauched monarchy.

Along with his great ally, political cartoonist George Cruikshank, Hone sought vindication for his laughable offences and fought for freedom in one of the most remarkable legal cases of its time.



Director – Caroline Leslie

Designer – Dora Schweitzer

Lighting – Matt Leventhall

Sound – Steve Mayo



Watermill Theatre 17 – 27 Oct

Guildford, Yvonne Arnaud 29 Oct – 3 Nov

Ipswich New Wolsey 5 – 10 Nov

Cheltenham Everyman 12 – 17 Nov

Brighton Theatre Royal 19 – 24 Nov


Malvern Theatre 21 – 29 Jan

Salford, Lowry 29 Jan – 2 Feb

Chichester Festival Theatre 4 – 9 Feb

Glasgow King’s Theatre 11 – 16 Feb

Richmond Theatre 18 – 23 Feb

Milton Keynes Theatre 25 Feb – 2 March

Eastbourne Devonshire Park Theatre 5 – 9 March