If you’re up for plays that twist and turn along with a cast of characters who, despite initial appearances to the contrary, are a pretty unsavoury bunch, then the latest production at Chichester Festival Theatre is right up your street.

The Inquiry is the first play from Guardian journalist Harry Davies who has used his time watching public inquiries – sometimes for work, sometimes just for fun – and written something that tries to take the audience behind the scenes. In particular, he reveals what happens towards the end of any inquiry when those who are likely to be criticised in the final report are shown in advance what is going to be said about them and are given the chance to put their side prior to publication.

Audiences in this part of the world might recognise something familiar about the subject of this particular inquiry investigating the shenanigans of ‘Eastern Water’ (sounds familiar?) as they try to cover up a massive case of pollution that they are almost certainly guilty of causing and then trying to cover up.


To have access to all of our best stories subscribe to The Argus here

The Inquiry Chair, Lady Justice Wingate, played with great authority by Deborah Findlay, is determined to reveal the truth, despite the commercial and political consequences, but will she be able to?

John Heffernan plays the Right Honourable Arthur Gill, the apparently clean-cut up and coming justice minister with an eye on Downing Street. He is ‘persuaded’ by his older mentor, Lord Thorncliffe, played with menace by Malcolm Sinclair, that Eastern Water needs protection and he is to do the protecting.

From that point on things start to get nasty, or even nastier, as Gill puts out all the stops to try and persuade Lady Wingate to soften her criticisms of Eastern Water.  Does he succeed?  No spoilers here I’m afraid.

Directed by Joanna Bowman, the play uses the intimacy of the Minerva Theatre to convey the more intimate settings where deals about the final report get done. It’s a long way from the public face of such inquiries process where most (if not all) the evidence is heard in public and a full report is published. But as The Inquiry demonstrates that’s the appearance, the reality is somewhat different.

The Inquiry is on at the Minerva Theatre in Chichester until 11th November.