Five musicians made redundant from a National Theatre production of the play War Horse have lost a claim for temporary reinstatement but would have a strong case for breach of contract, a High Court judge has ruled.
The five musicians, who used to play live over prerecorded music, were made redundant last month. The five – Neyire Ashworth, Andrew Callard, Jonathan Eddie, David Holt and Colin Rae – had been working on the production since 2009.
They had asked to be temporarily reinstated pending full legal proceedings, but this was rejected by Mr Justice Cranston in the High Court yesterday.
However, the judge gave the musicians hope that they might be awarded damages at trial and said their claim for a breach of contract would be strong, although he said it was unlikely they would be reinstated.
In addition to the prerecorded background music, the production features live music made by performers on stage.
David Reade QC, representing the theatre, said: "The orchestra was not an integral part of the play, and indeed there is no live band in any other production of the play around the world."
The theatre said in a statement: "It is important to emphasise that War Horse has always been, and will continue to be, a play in which music plays an integral part, with a recorded orchestral under-score and central roles for folk musicians who perform live."
- This story was clarified on 17 April 2014 to make clear that the musicians played live over a prerecorded track rather than their contribution being replaced by recorded music.