The Justice Syndicate, Battersea Arts Centre

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by Lara Alier

Walking upstairs to the performance space, I was wondering why are there only 12 of us and why hadn’t I investigated a bit more what am I about to watch. Or, as it turns out, what I am about to do. Around one, big table, there are twelve tablets and name tags saying Juror 5, 6, and so on. I am going to be part of the jury that would decide if a Doctor was guilty or not guilty of sexual assault.

Our tablets feed us documents and evidence, such as his phone location that night and DNA test results. We also have access to interviews with the women who are pressing charges, the accused, and other people involved in the trial. Every so often we have the chance to talk to the other members of the jury to share our views and discuss the pieces of evidence. Finally, we are asked to anonymously vote whether he was guilty or not.

We started talking to each other with small, shy voices, but as time goes on, each of us begin to really invest in elaborating our own points, speaking with confidence and assurance. It’s powerful to consider what happens to us when we are given the power to decide someone’s fate.

For 90 minutes, I am totally immersed in this trial. At some point my cheeks flush, my heart starts pounding and I have to remind myself that it is just a performance. Because in real life, there aren’t cases like this.

In a world where life is more and more experienced through screens, getting 12 strangers to sit around a table discussing an issue is already an achievement in itself. I’m not sure whether this is a play, event, experiment, or interactive performance. Whichever of this, it doesn’t really matter and certainly presents an interesting future for theatre.

The Justice Syndicate runs through 23 February.

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