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Jury Play

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

Stepping into another world is not unusual for an audience attending a new piece of theatre by Edinburgh based site-specific auteurs Grid Iron. Walking into a mock-up of the high court, in which you're likely to be selected to be one of fifteen jurors overseeing a fifty-two day murder trial, as is the case with this new co-production with the Traverse, is a step into a world of class-bound ritual and enough arcane Latin phrases to bamboozle the crustiest of academics.

Ben Harrison's production of a text co-written with legal academic Jenny Scott disrupts proceedings of what initially seems like a cut and dry case by shining a spotlight on the jurors' imagined internal monologues. Recordings of these overlap with John Bett's Judge droning on inbetween declarations for both the defence and the prosecution. The play's authors themselves occasionally get to comment on things.

It is the second act of what looks like it might end up as a surrealist's take on Crimewatch, where the play jumps woozily down a utopian rabbit hole to get to reclaim justice from those only interested in law and order, that matters. In what ends up resembling a reality TV experiment crossed with Powell and Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death, a genuine stab at democracy is let loose in the courtroom in the most civil of ways.

This is done through an eminently playful set of exchanges between the seven-strong cast that attempt to breakdown hierarchical structures propagated by Mary Gapinski and Kirstin Murray's barristers in order to make more everyday sense, both for those on trial and the bored and distracted jurors. The end result is fascinatingly drawn out fanfare for the common man and woman that puts the judicial system in the dock and finds it wanting.

The Herald, October 6th 2017

ends

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