Twisty Turny Terror Lets You Join the Jury

Penny Flood gives her verdict on the Lyric's fascinating trial by theatre


 I had two reasons for wanting to see this. I enjoyed doing jury service at the beginning of the year and  was happy to have the opportunity to do it again, and because it was written by Ferdinand von Schirach who also wrote a terrific novel called The Girl Who Wasn't There. This was a double whammy for me.

The whole play is a trial and the audience is the jury.  Every seat has a voting device and at the end we have to press 1 for guilty and 2 for not guilty. But getting there is a long, twisty turny, fascinating process  as more and more evidence is uncovered and nothing is as straight forward as it looked at the start.  

Schirach is a lawyer by training so he knows where of he writes when it comes to the German law.

This the case:  German fighter pilot Lars Loch (Ashley Zhangazha) is on trial for murder after shooting down a Lufthansa passenger jet killing all 164 people on board, because he says  he thought it was going to be crashed into a crowded football stadium.  So did he murder 164 people or save 70,000? That's what the audience has to decide.

The whole thing is set is a smart German courtroom presided over by the judge (Tanya Moodie).

There are two witnesses:  Christian Lauterbach (John Lightbody) for the defence, a military man who, it seems, has never let an independent thought cross his mind; and the young, newly- widowed  Franziska Meiser ( Shanaya Rafaat) whose husband was on the plane, and has plenty of independent  thoughts as to where the blame lies.

Of course, counsels for the defence Biegler (Forbes Masson and the prosecution (Emma Fielding) have their say ending with some eloquent summing up. in which they both invoke Kant.

This goes on goes on for more than an hour and a half after which we're told to go outside to deliberate. It's actually an opportunity to sit on the roof terrace and cool down.  Sadly it seems the hefty  arts council grant didn't run to improving the air conditioning  in the main theatre.

Then we go back inside to vote.

It's great stuff and the best thing I've seen at  the Lyric for a long time.

Terror continues at the Lyric Hammersmith continues until 15 July. You can find more information and book tickets here.


June 23, 2017