Review: JURY DUTY, Theatre Deli

A hit of digital immersive theatre during lockdown finds a real-life home in the City.

By: Feb. 23, 2024
Review: JURY DUTY, Theatre Deli
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Review: JURY DUTY, Theatre Deli In an anonymous room in the City, a group of people is summoned to discuss the crimes of a man who swears his innocence. Jury Duty is as immersive as it gets. The selected strangers (aka us) must go through the evidence and interrogate the suspect to reach a verdict. It’s thought-provoking and stressful, exciting and potentially ruinous. With the decision-making and gameplay entirely left to the individuals, it’s what the genre should be. None of that promenade or in-the-round-sold-as-participatory nonsense, this is genuine Immersive Theatre.

Harry Briggs (Eddie Evans in our case) was found leaving a burning building, frazzled and injured, reeking of paraffin and mumbling about someone having already gone. He is arrested for arson, but later accused of murder and manslaughter too. It all looks very real. From the live video calls from Wandsworth Prison to the array of clues to explore, the attention to detail is truly impressive. Coordinated by an officer of the Ministry of Justice (Joe Ball on review night), the flaws of the remote jury become immediately apparent. These fictional governmental budget cuts come at a price.

The experience largely depends on the extroversion and proactivity of the participants. Teamwork becomes crucial, there’s too much information to examine so it’s best to divide and conquer, so this might not be the ideal production for those who want a solo adventure. It’s not so much a reflection on ethics or an exploration of the morality of misconduct, but a brilliant exercise of discerning evidence from opinion. Unlike other games that don’t have a solution or where the result is ambiguous, Jury Duty has a correct ending.

Whether you convict Briggs or not, you get the satisfaction of knowing what he did or didn’t, why, and how at the end. Every thread is pulled by the actors and the audience has a chance to ask questions and discuss, while our own performance is somewhat judged in terms of precision and cleverness. If you enjoy true crime documentaries, are passionate about the mishandling of justice, or are into conspiracy theories, this is guaranteed to be a thrilling evening.

Jury Duty runs at Theatre Deli and is currently booking until 27 July.