The effect of the Legal Aid cuts: an Oscar-winners depiction
15 May 2015 by Ties Bouwmeester
The Invisible, written by Oscar-winning playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz and specially commissioned by the Bush Theatre in Hammersmith and Fulham, asks the audience to consider the wide reaching effects of the cuts to legal aid brought about by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. Whilst not exactly conventional and perhaps unlikely to appeal a huge audience, the play promises to provide an insight into the difficulties some may face in attempting to access justice following the cuts.
Rebecca Lenkiewicz is an award-winning writer and the first living female playwright to have her work produced on the Olivier Stage at the National Theatre. Rebecca co-wrote the screenplay Ida, which won the Oscar for best foreign language film at the 2015 awards.
Based on a series of interviews with people at all levels of the British justice system, the play aims to tell the stories of the many ordinary people affected by the cuts and, according to the theatre, to examine how they are driving ever deeper cracks into the fabric of our society. The cuts currently total £350m, leading many commentators to believe that the reforms to the legal aid system are arguably one of the biggest threats to human rights in Britain today.
The Law Society launched its Access to Justice campaign in September 2014 to highlight the impact of the cuts and is sponsoring the production of The Invisible.
The President of the Law Society, Andrew Caplen, said:
‘We are delighted to be sponsoring this production. The theme of The Invisible chimes very clearly with our Access to Justice campaign. Cuts to legal aid have forced more and more people into ‘do it yourself’ justice where representing themselves is the only option other than to take no action at all for themselves and their families. This creative partnership will raise awareness of the importance of the role of lawyers within our justice system. The fundamental concept of the rule of law is nothing more than an ideal if people cannot obtain access to justice.’
The Invisible will run at the Bush Theatre on Uxbridge Road, London from 3 July to 15 August 2015.