Silence in Court

There is no greater theatrical performance, some say, than that which goes on in the courts throughout Great Britain, although the system differs north and south of the border, it’s still fertile ground for an experimental piece of fringe theatre which makes a welcome return to the festival this year with a new cast.

It is the events of one night in March in the Zyrtec nightclub which form the basis for the case, Did Charles Brand (Blair Grandison) rape Jennifer Lyons (Lauren Heatherill) - it’s up the audience, both those in the public gallery and those who sit in the jury box to reach a decision.

In a venue which looks remarkably like an actual court we hear both side of the arguments thanks to lawyers Rhona Dalbeith (Anne Kane Howie) for the defense and Callum Paterson (Ali Macdougall) for the prosecution. The case is heard by a Judge (Kerry Hamilton-Nicoll) with a wry sense of humour who manages to raise a smile with her little asides.

As the Jury try to reach a decision they are guided by the clerk of the court (Paul Murray), it is in trying to reach the decision that the really engrossing action happens, much as each audience is different so shall be the conversations that are had in order to get at the truth. Of course this isn't a real life court as there is every chance you would ‘find Brand’ not proven: you can only choose Guilty or Not Guilty and it’s a worthy showcase of the cast’s excellent acting talents that they can sway you either way.

Grandison and Heatherill really shine as they embody a whole series of emotions over the hour this trial lasts, with clever writing and pointed direction and an ending which delivers a smart sting in the tail no matter the verdict. The only thing to let it down is it can feel slightly rushed to keep it in its time slot, but the discussion among the jury and public gallery could go on for hours!

It’s the unique fact that no two show will ever be the same that makes this event so watchable. You could plausibly watch every single day of the run and experience something completely different and that is a very unique selling point of the production: it's a real achievement in immersive and interactive theatre.This is a sharp, well observed and brilliantly acted piece of courtroom drama.

Reviews by Brett Herriot

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The Blurb

A courtroom somewhere, anywhere. Charles Brand is charged with raping Jennifer Lyons. Is he guilty or not guilty? Only you, the jury, can decide… Award-winning 2011 Fringe sell-out. Contains themes of sexual violence. *****(Edinburgh Evening News).