08:17, July 09 200 0 theguardian.com

2020-07-09 08:17:03
Lockdown culture  Jury Duty review – trial-by-audience is cheekily enjoyable

A man has been killed and his body, along with most of the evidence, engulfed in flames. Investigative journalist Harry stands trial for murder and, in a slightly skewed post-Covid-19 reality, the normal laws of the justice system no longer apply. Instead, an online jury has been hastily assembled to weigh up the evidence. Will we do the right thing?

Trial-by-public-jury has practically emerged as a theatrical genre in its own right during lockdown – probably because it’s an efficient and (hopefully) entertaining way to unite a disparate online audience. Jury Duty has been created by Joe Ball of Exit Productions and writer-actor Tom Black, and it’s a slightly sprawling but cheekily enjoyable affair.

The audience is split into two and left to wade through the evidence, including gory crime-scene photos, arrest reports and social media posts. There are few interruptions and it’s the particular chemistry of your own group that’ll determine the energy and feel of your experience. My gang is fairly serious and, as we carefully comb through the evidence, I can’t escape the feeling I’m cramming for an exam I’m doomed to fail.

As the sentencing draws closer, a few more live elements are thrown into the mix, providing a welcome jolt of adrenaline. We take it in turns to interview the suspect (played with eye-twitching anxiety by Black) and breathlessly report our findings to the group. It’s fascinating to see how quickly this group of strangers bands together in a touchingly earnest pursuit of the truth. When the conclusion comes, it’s a bit like those Poirot revelation moments: mildly ridiculous but delicious all the same.

Jury Duty is available online.