6th February 2020
Review by Shaun Tossell
Original musicals are hard to come by these days, original British musicals even more so. This is where fringe theatre comes into play. There is always fresh and exciting new theatre to be found if you look hard enough.
Case in point is new musical The Jury, which comes to Upstairs at the Gatehouse.
Twelve strangers are brought together to decide the fate of one man, in a controversial case that will change them forever. The pressure is on to reach a unanimous decision. Tensions run high, personal feelings get in the way, secrets come out…but will they be able to all agree? To reach the right verdict?
The cast of twelve, brilliantly portray their individual characters, with each actor infusing distinct personalities to their respective juror, when they could of easily been pretty two-dimensional in lesser hands.
A standout for me was Bethany Grace as Debbie, who shined in the comedic scenes of the show as the air-head trophy wife but also showed surprising depth in the more dramatic scenes.
Also to be applauded is the inclusion of a trans actor playing a trans part. This shows there is no excuse for bigger productions to not be able to do the same.
The main set piece of the show is a huge table the jurors sit and deliberate around. It’s simple, yet effective and is fully utilised throughout.
One small criticism would be the lighting design. I felt like it could be more dynamic throughout the show, which would help heighten the tension more, in certain moments but this could be a limitation of the venue.
The direction by Joseph Meighan kept the show moving, always keeping it interesting and fully utilising the whole of the small space to great effect.
The book by Amy Fletcher kept me on my toes, wanting to find out the next secret of the characters. It was also a lot more funny than I was expecting, a highlight being a role-play scene, which I especially found hilarious.
The songs by composer Ashley M. A. Walsh are dramatic and atmospheric, beautifully performed by the cast.
The Jury is a unique musical, full of big moral dilemmas that really get you thinking. It kept me on the edge of my seat and left me wanting more.
I hope The Jury has a further life, with some more refinement and trimming down a bit in some areas. It could shine even more.
A fresh new musical that definitely has me excited for what composer Ashley M. A. Walsh comes up with next. Definitely worth a watch!
The Jury is playing at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, running until 16th February 2020.
Tickets & more info – https://www.upstairsatthegatehouse.com/the-jury
Photo credit – Julian Bruton