The Honourable Rod Quantock hereby directs you to appear in Court in the Act…
Rod Quantock is perhaps known to most Australians as the floppy-hatted former mascot of Captain Snooze, but all that was just a cover (and cash-cow) for more subversive activities – redefining and refining the art of Australian satire. His show, Court in the Act, is a chaotic shambles of audience participation poking fun at due process.
The legal system has long been ripe for comedy. Perhaps it’s the intensity and seriousness of an institution that can decide a person’s entire future. With his new show, Quantock hopes audiences will take away some insights as to the processes involved, and "get some understanding as to how it works and the limits of it, I suppose. I’ve got a friend who’s a QC and one of the top barristers in the country. He always says, if you’re expecting justice, don’t go to court. Because it isn’t about justice, it’s about the law."
With potluck for a plot, The Old Magistrates Court and The Old City Watch House as the set, The Audience (that’s you) as the cast and comedian Quantock presiding, Court in the Act is back- Rod first presented Court in the Act at the Justice Museum in 2007.
The show begins with Rod putting you and some people you’ve never met in a prison cell. (Perhaps the very cell Chopper was in. Spooky.) Meanwhile, the people you came with are in other cells with other strangers and you won’t be released until you and the strangers with you think up a crime, nominate someone to be accused of that crime, and appoint a team from your ranks to be their defence team.
The work is very much audience dependent – something that could be very scary. "Obviously some nights are better than others," says Quantock "because some people who play the parts are better than other people, and yeah its everybody went away happy and I think they all understand the premise of it as well, so they forgive me for the weaknesses of others really."
A preliminary hearing of all the crimes is held in the old exercise yard and the most popular crime goes to trial. From there it’s a hop, step and a prod to the Old Magistrates’ Court for the case of The Crown v Someone in the Audience. And this is where it gets interesting. With the exception of Rod’s magisterial performance as ‘Counsel Assisting’, all the parts are played by the audience.
You could be ‘The Judge’ or ‘Prosecutor’ or ‘Juror’ or ‘Witness’ or ‘Disgruntled Herald Sun reader in the Public Gallery No. 2’ or even ‘Exhibit A’ or ‘The Body’!
If you are thinking that this sounds like a show that could be difficult to put together Quantock sets you straight: "It took a little bit of working out really but once I worked it out it just did what it did. It was dependant on the audience to choose the crime, and be all the players in the drama, so every night was different which always makes it a lot of fun. It took a lot of concentration and so on, but it was a very enjoyable thing to do."
Whatever your role you will be a part of an evening of unique courtroom comedy orchestrated by one of Australia’s master comics.
Court In The Act runs 18 January – 11 February at Old Melbourne Goal