In March 1975, a mini-cab driver from Bow was jailed for 20 years for alleged armed robbery and wounding a policeman on 4 April 1974. George Davis’s family and friends were convinced of his innocence; their campaigns against his arrest and conviction formed the basis of this play. Much of the material, witness’ reports, judge’s summing up etc., was verbatim.
The evidence against George Davis consisted of identification evidence, without any corroborative evidence of any kind, apart from police ‘verbals’. Conviction on identification finally aroused sufficient concern for the government to instigate an inquiry headed by Lord Devlin. The organisation, JUSTICE, supplied evidence to the Devlin Commission in which they listed numerous cases of men convicted in the most dubious circumstances on identification evidence only. The most notorious case of mistaken identity was the identification of George Ince by the Patience family for the Barn Restaurant murder. They were proven wrong and Ince was eventually acquitted. To clear himself, Ince had to take on the judicial system single-handedly. He was lucky enough to be able to do it. George Davis had the support of his family and friends in the fight for his release. But there were too many others unable to plead their case and without anyone to fight on their behalf.
At the time George Davis is Innocent, OK was described as a “Dramatised Documentary” and “Living Newspaper” in The Stage.
Poster designs by Martin J Walker and printing by Walker and Brittain, Red Dragon Print collective.
Nora Connolly was an actor who was involved with Half Moon Theatre in its early days. She remembers one of the early productions which drew in a different audience. Interviewed by Isabel R.
Writer, Shane Connaughton talks about his production of George Davis Is Innocent, OK? and how this local news story was brought to the stage. He talks about the performance of the play after George Davis was released from prison. Interviewed by Kavanna Joyett.
The Theatre was a vital part of the community, and the dialectical discourse begun with the plays, often ran through the community. This was particularly evident with two productions, The Hammers and George Davis is Innocent OK. Many of the posters for The Hammers were torn off walls by West Ham United supporters because they depicted a West Ham player falling from the sky in flames.
In the case of George Davis is Innocent OK, it was I who introduced the case, campaign and Peter Chappell to Pam. They were like ‘peas in a pod’ both infused with the same sense of manic obsession. Shane Connaughton the Irish writer co-author of My Left Foot wrote the Half Moon production based on the campaign.
It might have come as a shock, as it did to me to see the Half Moon Theatre packed with villains, some of whom came more than once to the production. As with The Hammers the criminal community became overtly involved in the production, taking a heaven sent opportunity to ‘ready eye’, the Theatres surrounding premises and burglarise one entering over the roof from the Half Moon.
I loved mixing with all those at the Half Moon and even though I only designed the posters I was treated with respect by everyone. My knowing Pam gave me an introduction to some individuals that I would not normally had the opportunity to talk to, including Peter Terson, who called in at the house one day when Pam wasn’t there and stayed talking to me about posters, and his most recent production, for a couple of hours and Willy Russell in whose house I stayed when the Half Moon took George Davis is Innocent OK to the Liverpool Everyman.
My memories of the Half Moon in Alie Street, are memories of the immediate post 1968 era, which has slowly slipped away, to be replaced on the whole by corporate funding.