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Jury Duty: Immersive Theatre Where The Audience Decide

When it comes to immersive theatre, I am always at the front of the queue to get a reviewing spot. And so far, I’ve never been disappointed. In my immersive experience, I’ve worked on the Jack the Ripper case, been an undercover agent in World War II, and been attacked by killer zombies but, until now, I’ve never taken part in something as mundane sounding as Jury Duty. But on a sunny Saturday afternoon, my companion Michael and I found ourselves with ten other people in a nondescript jury room determining the fate of Harry Briggs under a new trial system recently introduced by the Ministry of Justice.

Jury Games Roundtable (c) Jury Games.
Jury Games – (c) Jury Games.

Obviously, as an immersive experience, I can’t tell you that much about what happened as everyone’s experience is, by definition, going to be different. The event started when a staff member from the MoJ met us and explained what we, as jurors, were going to do and the various options open to us. We had access to all the evidence and statements from various people involved in the crime. We also, thanks to the new trial rules, had access to additional information that assisted us as we went into the crime – or was it – in greater detail. This was demonstrated by the wealth of evidence available to us and the interaction with Harry where we had the opportunity to put our own questions to him.

The team behind Jury Duty have done a fantastic job in putting together everything we needed to make an informed decision, but it was up to us to find and interpret it. As you would expect, nothing is cut and dried and there were a lot of twists and turns along the way to uncovering the truth, and that meant everybody was involved from the start. And anyone that goes in with the idea that Harry is guilty will find this both challenged and confirmed. Certainly, in the group I was with, there were jurors – including me – who changed their minds on what we were being asked to deliberate quite a few times. In fact, the final few minutes of our discussions were quite intense as each juror tried to explain why they were voting the way they were. Michael pointed out to me that I was getting really into things and became rather frustrated when it felt like the other jurors weren’t listening. He’s probably right. No matter how much your head knows you are taking part in a performance if it’s done as well as Jury Duty you can’t help but be drawn in and want to do your best.

So, you’ve probably guessed I thoroughly enjoyed Jury Duty. It worked well with the vast majority of the investigation and decision-making coming from us the jurors. I’m sure if we had gone too far into left field, there would have been a way to bring us back, and maybe that happened at some point. But if it did, it was subtly done and at no point did I feel like I was being manipulated or steered to look in a certain direction. No more details on the show here, but I can say both of us had a great time and a long discussion about the experience when we went back into the real world. Whilst like most people I would probably find any excuse I could to avoid the real thing, Jury Duty was a well-thought-out and put-together experience that kept my attention from start to finish, giving me real food for thought about whether we made the decision or not.

4 stars

Review by Terry Eastham

Harry Briggs has been charged with arson, manslaughter and murder. Though he admits arson, he maintains his innocence on the other charges. According to the Justice Act 2023, the jury must leave no stone unturned to determine what really happened on the night in question. Players will review and discuss evidence including sworn statements and must question the accused to deliver their final verdict. Is he guilty or not or, is there more to the case than there appears?

Running Time: 90 mins no interval | Suitable for ages: Children under the age of 13 need to be accompanied by an adult over 18. The game involves discussion of murder and arson.

Company information
Creatives: Tom Black, Eddie Evans, Ellie Russo, Joe Ball

Listings information
Various dates from 1 March – some weekends there are no shows, check the website before booking
Theatre Deli Leadenhall, 107 Leadenhall St, London EC3A 4AF
https://www.theatredeli.co.uk/

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