This brand-new play written by Martin Murphy has been crafted during lockdown and draws on the situation within our legal system where, due to COVID, cases have been put on ice awaiting a decision to resume. To try to tackle the backlog, a digital replacement via Zoom has been introduced and a high-profile case is being tried by jury.
Park Theatre have turned what is usually a script class, into a theatre company under the direction of Amy Allen. The pressure is on for the jurors to reach a verdict within 45 minutes.
The twelve jurors have heard evidence in a criminal trial and have then try to reach a unanimous verdict. We, the viewer, do not get to hear the evidence, but we rely on hearing the jury discuss the minutiae of the case. This has been classed as a test case to see whether it is practical to try a case when the jurors are not together in one room, the jurors have been furloughed from their jobs and will not receive their money unless they participate so there is a monetary incentive to be a part of this.
The jury is made up of an assortment of characters from Toni (Anne Scoging) who likes to drink Gin and Tonic with her dippy egg for elevenses to Anya (Sara Odeen-Isbister) who tells incoherent tales. These jurors must decide whether the lady on trial is guilty of a sexual offence against a minor. During the trial we begin to hear the facts of the case and how the jurors react depending in some cases, on their own life experiences. In some cases, it becomes clear that this case hits a nerve and makes some jurors feel uncomfortable.
Recorded in their own homes, the script class give us an insight as to how a Zoom jury case might work if it were implemented. Writer Martin Murphy gives us twelve interesting characters who you could never actually imagine agreeing on anything. The foreperson has the task of guiding the jury through the procedures to try to procure a unanimous verdict, if they cannot agree then the case will be designated not proven. The pressure is on!
The comedic elements within the script allow the performers to have some fun with their characters. The informal surroundings of their own homes creates a backdrop at odds with the formal nature of a jury trial and one cannot really believe that something as institutional as our legal system could be played out on Zoom. In a sense, the absurdity of this situation makes this play all the more enjoyable.
The Park Theatre like so many other theatres needs donations to continue to be able to keep its doors open while not being able to support themselves with ticket sales. It not only provides a cultural theatre experience in its two theatre spaces; it provides a learning hub to both young and old and also offers workshop and meeting space. If you are able to donate, then please give what you can afford. To access the play and to make a donation please go to https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on
Reviewer: Caroline Worswick
Reviewed: 25th August 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★