Shire Hall, Dorchester

ON the eve of the grand reopening of the Shire Hall following its complete refurbishment, The Gramophones Theatre Company are presenting a series of lighthearted but dramatic and truthful reminiscences of the building’s amazing history as a court of justice.

Three young, energetic and talented actors take on a variety of roles as they accompany the audience from the small cells to the authentic courtroom of 1789, recounting memories of punishment and injustice at a time when stealing a spoon could lead to trial and transportation to Australia for seven years.

An imaginative script by Hannah Stone is directed by Tilly Branson as it travels from a dubious insight of the ghostly presence of Judge Jeffreys to a petty theft 200 years ago and the construction of a 20th century emergency bunker area for protecting staff members of the council during World War 2.

Another highlight for audience members is the unique opportunity to sit in the room and at the table where the six Tolpuddle Martyrs waited in 1834 before going to trial in the courtroom upstairs.

The play stresses the importance of sharing and recording memories of the past as they bring to life tales from happy to sad that local people have shared of their experiences of the historic building in a fascinating account of some of Dorchester’s history that deserves never to be forgotten.

There are further performances tonight, tomorrow and Saturday afternoon and evening with limited tickets for this memorable journey into the town’s past.