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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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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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).

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