Who are the goodies? Who are the baddies? The Inquiry at Chichester Festival Theatre

Deborah Findlay is Lady Justice Deborah Wingate as The Inquiry opens in Chichester’s Minerva Theatre.
Deborah Findlay - pic by Faye ThomasDeborah Findlay - pic by Faye Thomas
Deborah Findlay - pic by Faye Thomas

A new play by Harry Davies, running from Friday, October 13-Saturday, November 11, it tells of MP Arthur Gill, one of Westminster's rising stars and a favourite to be the next Prime Minister. But there’s a problem. Lady Justice Deborah Wingate is on the brink of publishing her findings about a public health disaster: a scandal that happened on Gill’s watch. “It is very exciting,” Deborah says. “Harry Davies is the writer. He is an investigative journalist and it is his first play. He was there for our first week and I think he will be with us when we come down to Chichester. It is just thrilling. I've done a lot of new work and what is lovely about new work is that you can treat new work as a classic just as you can treat a classic as a new work. It just kind of ties together but obviously with the new work you really are treading new ground which is thrilling. But also with a new work you are on tenterhooks to see if it's going to work, and this definitely will. It's a really compelling piece of writing and for us the responsibility is to take it to the audience. It's a bit of a thriller though it is a difficult piece to label and I think that's what makes it so interesting. You don't know who the goodies are and who the baddies are.

“It is called The Inquiry. It's a work of fiction but as an investigative journalist Harry has been influenced by the world that he has worked in. It is basically an inquiry into a disaster that happened quite a few years before but in subsequent years, quite recently, there has been a fall-out because of it. It is to do with a disaster involving water and who is responsible for it. Politics are involved and the idea of the inquiry is to find out who is responsible for the initial disaster which has created all this havoc. I think the writer is really interested in the connection between the law-makers and the government and journalists. There is an element of how we perceive the truth, what is the truth and who makes the truth.

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“I am playing Lady Justice Deborah Wingate – and I don't think I have ever played a Deborah before! I am chairing the Wingate inquiry. She is seen as a safe pair of hands and she has been appointed to see this through. She is not expected to rock any boats. The inquiry has been going on for four years now and it is nearing its end. Watch this space. This is a play that really does deliver.

“And for me what is really exciting about doing a new play is that it takes you into whole new different areas. When I was doing a play a few years ago called The Children it was about nuclear power disasters and I learned all about that world. And now I'm learning about the world of inquiries and I just love it. It gives you a focus and then suddenly a whole new world opens up. In the first week we went to the Middle Temple which was fascinating and we went all around the Inns of Court which was a whole different world.”

Deborah added: “The last time I was here was in Separate Tables which was great. I just loved being down here and it was in a similar slot to this one though on the main house. I stayed down at East Wittering which was just wonderful. I used to go to the beach every day. It's really lovely to be coming down again.”​