Are you aware of your inherent biases about gender? How much do they affect your judgments about what women or men are capable of? What about when it comes to a violent crime?
In new British musical The Jury, 12 strangers must deliberate on a high-profile murder case. A man is charged with murdering his wife. He admits to the crime but claims it was self-defence. Could this be true? Is the woman always the victim? And what happens to the dead woman’s daughter if her father goes to prison?
There’s far more to consider than headlines suggest and, as the audience, we’re asked to check our biases and make our own judgments too – an official-looking Jury Summons and Case File is provided with your ticket – in order to reach impartial justice. (This certainly resonated with me the day after the most corrupt president in US history was acquitted by seriously compromised ‘jurors’ after an impeachment trial which blocked witnesses and evidentiary documents.)
“What has become of the world?
What has become of us all?
What happens when all this is over?”
Though, in fact, The Jury is less about the case specifics and more about the process of decision-making, the dynamics of the group and the revelations about each of the individuals in it. Where do their moral compasses point? (And by extension, where do ours?)
To discuss the musical’s development, morality and more, I was joined after the opening night performance by composer Ashley M A Walsh, who also conceived the piece, book writer Amy Fletcher, director Joseph Meighan and actors Laura Coard and Kaidyn Hinds.
There was great input too from other members of the cast – Ashley Ball, Bethany Grace, Charlie Culkin, David Gibbons, Elizabeth Brooks, Huon Mackley, Janice Fryett, Katherine Victoria, Laura Meaton and Tom Blackmore – and the audience, including a representative from one of the production’s partnered charities, Rainbow Trust, supporting families with seriously ill children.
The Jury runs at Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate, north London, until 16 February 2020.
Event photography by Peter Jones.