Review – Silence in Court, New Town Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Saturday 27 August 2011

Let it never be said that the Whingers overlook an opportunity to pass judgement.

Which made Silence in Court irresistible.

The show takes place in Edinburgh’s  Freemasons Hall  in a very court-like room which apparently boasts listed wallpaper and thus is the only venue in town into which you can’t take drinks. Rocky start.

Anyway, as the audience enters the courtroom they are given the option of sitting on the jury, an opportunity which the Whingers naturally grasped with both glass-free hands.

Then the trial begins. A man is accused of raping a woman in a club. He pleads not guilty and both are questioned and cross-examined by the lawyers.

The court adjourns leaving the jury and audience to debate the pros and cons of the case before being given the opportunity to cross examine the witnesses.

Of course it is simplified: there are 13 on the jury so that it can never be hung (however well), there is no allowance for “beyond reasonable doubt” or the Scottish “not proven” verdict and there is no evidence nor any witnesses. So what it boils down to is one person’s word against the other and hilarity ensues as the highly skilled moderator – the court usher played by Paul Murray – struggles to keep the jury on track with the rules of the game.

The only fly in the ointment  is the decision to make it a sexual assault case; if this is to try and stop the evening descending into chaotic laughter it fails.

That aside, Silence in Court – more “game” than “theatre” – makes for a ridiculous but hugely enjoyable hour which could be titled: Thirteen Overexcited Men And Women, Two Of Them Clearly A Bit Tiddly.

Rating

Rating score 4-5 full-bodied

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