Review: Jury Duty, Theatre Deli

A genuinely interactive and immersive piece of gaming theatre, Jury Duty is definitely guilty of offering a great time at Theatre Deli

“I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will faithfully try the defendant and give a true verdict according to the evidence”

The Justice Act 2023 has mandated that remote juries can now carry out the business of the Crown Court, so as we’re sequestered into a nondescript office and sworn into our official role, the job of administering justice is left clearly in our hands. Such are the stakes laid out in the opening moments of Jury Duty and it is a blessed relief to find theatre that describes itself as immersive and interactive turning out to be just that (more effectively so than Murder Trial Tonight for instance).

A representive from the Ministry of Justice (Joe Ball at this performance) takes us through the case – Harry Briggs (Eddie Evans here) has been charged with arson, manslaughter and murder and we’ve got 90 minutes to reach a verdict. Piles of evidence are there to be sifted, reports to be read, blueprints to examine, police databases to interrogate, even a giant whiteboard wall free for us to go full Carrie-from-Homeland (or perhaps Juror Number 8) on.

Created by Ball and Evans with Tom Black and Ellie Russo, the attention to detail here is phenomenal. As we hunt down details, crack codes and snaffle out pieces of evidence, the layers of storytelling are deeply impressive and as we get the opportunity to question Briggs via video-link from Wandsworth Prison, Evans’ performance is simply fantastic in the way that he responds so vividly to the numerous lines of questioning.

As with any form of immersive theatre, you do get back what you put in and so it perhaps isn’t the game for the more shy and retiring, given the relatively small groups here, though Ball’s compere is always on hand to give an expert gentle nudge if needed. And there’s something highly satisfying about the way the conclusion is laid out, the space given for us to reflect on the verdict reached and a performance review offered, showing how good a job we did or didn’t do. Entertaining and illustrative.

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