Ernest Boulton and Frederick William Park were two young men who, in 1871, were put on trial in London for dressing as women and conspiracy to commit sodomy, a felony at the time. They dressed up as women (and were very good at it) for amateur theatricals, but when the show was over, and sometimes when there wasn’t even any show, as ‘Fanny and Stella’ they would frequent places of entertainment in the West End where men encountered men for sex and male prostitutes plied their trade.
Park and Boulton were acquitted – an amazing victory for the time when sexual acts between men carried a sentence of two years – primarily because conspiracy could not be proved. Or perhaps it was because one had a father who was a judge, and the other a mother who swayed the court with her tears. Upon their acquittal, Park and Boulton – as Fanny and Stella – along with their theatre company, take their story on the road. They hire a venue for “one night only” to tell their amazing true story of their lives, their trial, and their sensational acquittal. But are they in an ungiving age putting themselves on trial a second time?