Friday, 7 February 2020

REVIEW: The Jury at Upstairs at the Gatehouse

The Jury is a new musical landing in London having had a successful run at the Brindley Theatre in Runcorn, sharing a story of twelve strangers trying to unanimously decide the verdict for a murder case. Combining different social backgrounds and discussing domestic violence, gender politics, still-births and more, will they come to a conclusion?

Ultimately, this musical for me feels very underwhelming. I hate to say it, but it just was very slow or repetitive. Amy Fletcher’s book and lyrics took time to really start flowing, and a lot of the time there was eggy dialogue. Certain characters felt massively underwritten, especially Harry (played by Kaidyn Hinds) – after his song his character felt minimal. I also would have loved to have more of Louise’s story (played by Charlie Culkin), and more of Tom’s story (played by Ashley Ball). A lot of the characters felt like caricatures rather than rounded characters, and it wasn’t easy to follow them, especially when there wasn’t much of an arc to be had. For me, Ashely M A Walsh’s music was the best bit – especially the tight harmonies and acapella moments in ‘The Verdict’. However, a couple of the songs felt out of place and repeated too long, for me most notably ‘It Doesn’t Matter’, leaving Walsh’s Sondheim like sound for a pop song that made its point early on.

The direction of the piece by Joseph Meighan was good in some areas, but also didn’t work for me in others. The moving of the table felt very messy to me, making me wonder if there was a better way to do it, and having people stand on the table didn’t work for me. There was good spacing throughout the stage though and good moving around for what could have been a very static show. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the amount of mime talking that went on throughout the show, or conversations that trailed into mime talking, for me it took away from the naturalism that had been set up from the beginning. I thought there was a good use of lighting although for me the opening lighting felt more impactful than later on in the show, and sound wise I didn’t understand for the cast the need to be mic’d up, especially when only being accompanied by a beautiful grand piano. In such an intimate venue I feel that the mics were unnecessary.

As far as the actors went, I felt that there was a wide range from either massive overacting to underacting, so a lot of the time I never got fully on board with the characters. My favourite moments came from Andy (played by Tom Blackmore) giving real believability with a lovely voice, and Sarah (played by Laura Coard), who brought a good believability to a character trying to choose right from wrong. 

Overall for me, there are good things about this show – the music has some real finesse to it, there are moments of real heart, and building in real trans characters is fantastic and should be applauded. This shows that there is promise to this show for the future. However I felt that the show in total has a lot that needs to be reworked in order to make it a more polished and exciting show for the future.

Review by Adam Yorke

Rating: ★★

Seat: n/a | Price of Ticket: £18
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