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This Is Your Trial

by on 7 November 2022

Trial and Errant

This Is Your Trial

by David Allison

BCP at the OSO Arts Centre until 5th November

Review by Denis Valentine

The classic Monty Python phrase of ‘and now for something completely different’ definitely applies to David Allison’s idea and show here.  Upon entering the ‘courtroom’ audience members are given sheets to fill in to accuse each other of ‘crimes’ whilst also giving details and evidence on the case.

Once these sheets are handed in to the ushers, they are quickly vetted in the back before the night’s players enter and proceedings get underway. 

As with a lot of Improv shows, what then unfolds is reliant on a game audience that it is willing to immersive themselves (but not to the point of drawing too much away, as to overawe and be prohibit) in what the actors have in store. 

As the show relies on the cases that its audience members have chosen to submit, each performance will be very different and requires not only good performers but also a good crowd.  The loose and fun tone of the night is set well by the ‘Prosecutor’ Steve Bannell who enters with a bottle of beer in hand, to remind everyone that they are all there for a bit of enjoyment and that things are designed to be fun. 

With Bannell as the prosecutor up against the Defence team of Judy Ranjeed in the first half and then Alexa Bushell in the second, all three have good moments of humour and come up with some great on-the-spot moments to keep things lively and a bit different each time – whether that be getting two people on trial to re-enact the scene and events that led to one of them being accused or later for two to draw on a white board the visual evidence for their case. 

The fact that proceedings rely completely on what the audience is giving its players, works well for the most part but, due to this nature the show, may at times lag for those watching when the ‘case’ being debated is not quite interesting enough for those who are not privy to some of the in-jokes or subject matter of the two on trial.

It may help to avoid holdup moments like these if there’s a loose storyline thread between its main characters being played out throughout, as a general narrative underline, may keep each moment to moment interesting for all those watching.

‘Judge’ Rodger Hayward Smith does a good job with his sentencing and does very well with a timely reminder to the audience that although having fun and getting involved is what’s intended, there still needs to be respect and space for the actors in the show to do their bits and constant heckling will disrupt things in an adverse way. 

Ushers on the night Patrick Van Der Bergh and Jonathan Simmonds do their parts well, with some funny one liners whilst swearing in those involved in the next case.

The show is a lot of fun and it is very true that as an audience member the more you put into the immersion the more you get out of it (as long as what is being put in, is being channelled in the right way).  When done right This Is Your Trial works as a lovely reminder that sometimes theatre and drama can just be a good bit of fun and a chance for everyone to play.

Denis Valentine, November 2022

Photography by Mac

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