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  • Event data supplied by Leeds Inspired

Play, Sat 9 Mar 2019

Learned Friends

Learned Friends


Professional theatre company, Ginny Davis Productions, brings a thrilling, immersive courtroom drama to the unique setting of Leeds Crown Court.

Take two competent professional women, add secrets, suspense, high stakes and a little spice. Combine in a courtroom drama and you have the recipe for Edinburgh Fringe 5* writer and performer, Ginny Davis’s award winning play “Learned Friends”.

Cast and audience move between locations in the true setting of a working Crown Court, as events surrounding the trial of a high profile football manager play out. Prosecution and defence counsel each hold secrets they would prefer to keep. As truths emerge so do challenges to friendships, careers and the true course of justice.

Davis performs alongside former West End actress Sharon Baylis (The Mousetrap, Amadeus, The Bill, Emmerdale) and a company including Black Mirror and Darkest Hour actor, Michael Bott in this “warm, witty and suspenseful work” ( []).

“Learned Friends” won Best Original Piece at Birminghamfest 2016

“Brilliantly acted, superbly devised and amazingly well written.” Alastair Hodge Master of the Bench, Inner Temple

“Lively, intelligent legal cliff-hanger” (Leamington Spa Courier) 

Running time 1hour 15 mins.

Not suitable for children under 9 years old.

Contains some bad language.

Prompt attendance is requested. Please note that as the venue is a working Crown Court there will be security checks on entrance.

No photography allowed.



The courtroom is a tried and tested dramatic staple of stage, film and television. And while the British Crown court rarely moves at the sort of speed that screenplays would have you believe, there’s still plenty of spectacle to be had.

But as various legal dramas – most recently BBC1’s _Silk_ by Peter Moffat – have realised, the true drama comes from the offstage moments, when the barristers are not in court and the real bunfighting can take place.

Into this world dives _Learned Friends_, predominantly set in an antechamber where two barristers – on opposite sides of an assault case in which a prominent football manager is in the dock – are awaiting the verdict. For this one-off performance of Ginny Davis’s play, a makeshift stage is created by cordoning off a lower corridor within London’s Central Criminal Court – more commonly known by the name it inherits from its street address, The Old Bailey.

As the opening moments of the play unfolds, it seems as if the prestige of the location is being paid for with echoing acoustics that rarely work in a production’s favour. But as the action revolves around just two women – Davis playing prosecution barrister Judith, against Sharon Baylis’s defense barrister Mandy – the duo’s exploration of some legal dilemmas comes across with clarity and not a little humour. The impression that these are two women who have been working alongside each other for many years, and who have become friends even as they have faced each other in court, comes across well.

And thus, when information comes to light that could render the whole case invalid, the potential personal consequences are as clear as the legal ones are muddy. Davis constructs a set of moral questions that offers no easy answer, with Baylis’s defence barrister in particular facing choices which could ruin either of the barristers’ careers.

Usual productions of _Learned Friends_, I understand, see the barristers exit their room to receive the verdict, and continue the action once they return, the consequences of Mandy’s decision playing out further. But in the Old Bailey, who could resist exploring this beautiful, historic venue further? And so, a new scene was inserted, with cast and audience promenading to Court No. 1 for the delivery of the verdict.

Even here, Mandy’s consultation with the defendant takes place out of the sight and hearing of the audience, so the bulk of the additional material takes place within a conversation between prosecution barrister Juith and Ella-Siobhan Barker’s court clerk.

The action returns to the original staging for its conclusion, a satisfying finale in which the true justice is done, but in which one feels for all parties. In _Learned Friends_, Davis has created a pair of believable characters, and produced a courtroom drama that feels more realistic than many screen presentations. The thrill of experiencing a play within the Old Bailey itself is great, but it’s nothing without a play deserving of the surroundings – and _Learned Friends_, a warm, witty and suspenseful work, is just that.

_Learned Friends was at the Central Criminal Court on October 16. For more information including future performance dates, visit []_

Scott Matthewman (Off West-End, London Fringe reviews)

Additional performance: Sat 9 Mar 2019 17:00 - 00:00

Event details

Dates Times
Sat 9 Mar 2019 12:00 to 00:00 14:30 to 00:00


Tickets £30 each (plus admin charges) to include a £5 donation to Simon on the Streets, Registered Charity No. 1165317 PLEASE BRING YOUR TICKETS WITH YOU.   Sponsored by Brewin Dolphin, Gateley Plc, Park Square Barristers and Weightmans.

Events at this Venue

date event
Sat 9 Mar Learned Friends


Ginny Davis Productions


Leeds Combined Court Centre,
1 Oxford Road,



See location of Leeds Combined Court Centre on Google mapsSee location on Google maps

Map reference: SE 296338  Lat: 53.80044 Long: -1.55175