Former politician Jeffrey Archer s self-penned courtroom drama, The Accused, has posted early closing notices following some of the worst reviews in recent history and poor ticket sales. The play, which opened at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 5 December 2000 (previews from 30 November), had been booking to May 2001 but will now close on 20 January.

Archer made his professional acting debut playing a doctor accused of poisoning his wife in the interactive cliffhanger. Is Dr Sherwood a faithful husband or is he a ruthless, two-timing murderer? Each night the audience acts as jury and casts its vote as to Sherwood s guilt or innocence, and the drama continues with one of two alternate endings.

Archer is joined on stage by a distinguished cast including Edward Petherbridge, Michael Feast, Tony Britton and Edward de Souza. The Accused is directed by Val May and produced by Lee Menzies.

Archer is infamous in the UK for his numerous political and financial scandals. His bid last year to become London's first mayor was derailed by the revelation that he had asked a friend to lie in court in his 1987 libel action against the Daily Star newspaper. In a fantastic example of life imitating art, Archer will appear at the Old Bailey, where The Accused is set, in real life next May to be tried for perjury and perverting the course of action.

In addition to his political career, Archer has carved a lucrative niche for himself as a novelist. His best-selling thrillers include "The Eleventh Commandment", "First Among Equals" and "The Prodigal's Daughter". His previous plays include Beyond Reasonable Doubt and Exclusive.