The Justice Syndicate: A Highly Engaging Experience Where You Decide The Outcome
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The Justice Syndicate might sound like yet another superhero flick but it's an incredibly naked expression of DIY theatre wrapped around an intriguing social experiment.
Produced by innovative theatre company fanShen, each show seats 12 ticketholders around a wooden table, and presents them with an iPad full of evidence. The case is a fictional sexual assault prosecution, in which a top surgeon stands accused of attacking the mother of an ex-patient. A guilty verdict will have an impact far beyond the courtroom, and this ad hoc jury is asked to judge either a guilty or not guilty verdict based purely on what it is presented to them. There are no actors (other than on the screen), no props other than the tablet and no idea how this will all end.
There are some dramatic devices inserted here — jury members read off the written evidence, and can vote each other off for tactical or personal reasons — but not too many to distract from the central mission here of seeing how different people react to the same evidence.
For example, do we care about the alleged victim's past sexual history? Or the racy details of the man in the dock's browser history? What do we make of the scant hard facts around the case? Who do we believe more — the victim's sister or her assailant's wife?
After the jury make their final decision, there's a debrief with the boffins behind this experiment — feel free to stick around to hear how other juries fared.
This is an exciting premise which, on the occasion we went, delivered an enthralling and highly engaging experience which still plays on the mind.
The Justice Syndicate, Battersea Arts Centre. Tickets £12.50 (£10 concessions), until 23 February 2019.
Last Updated 15 February 2019