Monday, March 16, 2020

12th Annual John R. Hamilton Mock Trial: The Crown v. Falstaff

Falstaff was put on trial at the Orlando Shakes, (812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL 32803).  He is a disreputable an rather rotund character in Shakespeare's Henry IV. The judges in this trial were to be Alisa Smith, Chair of the Department of Legal Studies at the University of Central Florida, Judge Frederick Lauten, former Chief Judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit for Orange and Osceola Counties, and Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel Columnist. When introduced, Judge Lauten did an admirable and hilarious job of disinfecting his fellow judges and the entire judging area.

Hosted by the Bard’s Board Barristers, the Margeson Theater was transformed into a hilarious, interactive courtroom. Actors from Orlando Shakes’ production of Henry IV, Part 1 took the unpredictability of live theater to a whole new level in an over-the-top, rollicking trial amidst the panel of celebrity judges.

To start Falstaff recounted his heroic fight with some highwaymen who robbed him of the loot he had just hoisted himself. He brandished his sword recreating his every movement in the battle that ensued. With each telling the number of foes he had fought off grew. Then a cloaked figure read off the litany of charges against Falstaff which included larceny, robbery, thievery, lewd and lascivious behavior, public drunkenness, foul oderocity fraud, deceit, embezzlement, false accusations, abuse of power, obstruction of justice, impersonating the king, conspiracy and four counts of claim to murder. The list was hilariously long.

The trial itself began with Darth Vader as the prosecutor and Princess Leia as the defense attorney. Light sabers replaced the more timely swords. During the trial Falstaff got to discuss how honor has no place on a battlefield. The funniest moments came when Bardolph, Falsaff's side kick was put on the stand to testify. He was incredibly drunk and a very easy witness to sway.

In the end the entire audience was the jury and after our jury instructions, we had to vote on Falstaff's guilt or innocence. We had to raise out hands and make a guttural Wookiee call when we voted. Despite his clear guilt on many of the counts, he was an important character in the upcoming play, Henry IV Part 2. I voted to acquit, but the final decision was not clear based on the the noise in the theater. Chaos was breaking out. Then Falsaff bounded center stage and shouted, "I have been pardoned!" He ran off stage to murderous applause.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

No comments: