I am certain this spring has developed a hunger for live theatre and shared experiences. So having been offered the chance to review a production of Jury Duty, promising to engage the audience via Zoom with performance and interactive elements, I jumped at the chance. And boy, they did not disappoint!
The premise is simple. Harry Briggs is arrested and charged for murder and arson. The Audience is invited, as the jury, to review his case and come up with a verdict. What unfolds is a complex narrative of evidence, interviews, secret code, and messages presented on a multitude of online platforms, as we, the Jury, debate the events with other Jury members and try to get to the bottom of the case.
Signs of a great immersive experience are usually how well the world we enter is crafted and how we can interact with this world. Jury Duty succeeds perfectly in creating a wholly realised world with high-levels of detail and an array of ways in which the audience can interact. The performance element of the proceedings is used sparingly but with great effect. Tom Black’s portrayal of Harry Briggs is well-judged and engaging, and in particular, I enjoyed having an opportunity to question him, as part of the investigation, on my own. This is something that always excites me in immersive theatre, and Exit Productions proves it can also be done effectively remotely.
Overall, the experience is like an escape room with plenty of secrets to unravel and emotive theatre added to the mix. Granted, the success of the event highly relies on the audience’s initiative to interact and discuss with each other, which can be a bit daunting at first. But this is where The Coordinator (Joe Ball) comes to hand, as he eases everyone in and keeps track of the flow. Jury Duty kept me all the way at the edge of my seat from the comfort of my home, and certainly provides creative solutions on how theatre can still create shared experiences from a distance (thank you).
If you’re shy, grab a couple of your mates and maybe even a glass of wine, and have a cracking time whilst solving the mystery.
Jury Duty by Exit Productions
Cast: The Defendant/Harry Briggs Tom Black
The Coordinator Joe Bal
More information: here
Review: Jari Laakso