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Harry Briggs has confessed to arson. But he claims to have had no idea that someone was in the building when it burned down. Is he also guilty of manslaughter? Or murder? As a pioneering juror under Remote Hearing regulations, it’s your job – along with eleven other jury members – to decide on all three counts.
In this new experimental judicial system, there are no lawyers for either the defence or prosecution, and no judge. Sentencing is by automatic tariff, and a majority of one is all that’s required to swing the verdict.
You start this fully immersive theatrical experience in breakout rooms of just four jurors. You have twenty minutes to examine the evidence, presented through a series of dedicated web pages. This includes a floor plan of the building, the arrest report, audio interviews and witness statements. You can also use the Police Evidence Database to look up the characters involved, as well as examine their Facebook and Messenger archives. All in all, there’s a lot to sift through, so it’s worth following the Co-ordinator’s advice to divide the tasks between you.
Was the man found dead at the scene really just an office cleaner? Why was he barricaded into the room? Can you work out the passcode that will let you open Harry Briggs’ iPhone to see what he bought on Apple Pay? Why does Briggs, a freelance journalist, have such a fascination with arson? Why was his head bleeding when he was arrested, stumbling from the scene? And why would he specify zero apples on his shopping list? As you and your fellow jurors discuss your findings, you can all contribute with notes on the associated Google Docs page.
After your initial deliberations you’re given access to the Interview Room, where you can question Briggs directly. Played with quiet resolve by Tom Black, he initially refuses to answer any of your questions. It becomes clear he’s protecting someone, but who? And why? Only by winning over his trust will you get him to open up.
Back to the jury room, you might find yourself receiving texts and emails from other interested parties who want to help Briggs. Evidence is all around you, and it’s up to the twelve of you to compare your findings, suggest avenues of research and interview Briggs again before, finally, voting on the three verdicts. By the time you reach this stage you’ll probably have discovered that the trial takes you far beyond a simple case of arson, into a murky world of manipulation and high-level conspiracy.
Throughout the evening the Co-ordinator, deftly played by Joe Ball, handles the technical side – sending the texts and emails, moving you from room to room, and enabling one-on-one interviews with Briggs. The evidence has been immaculately constructed and artfully designed to test your investigative and deductive skills. For 105 minutes you’re tightly involved with your fellow jurors in a race to uncover the truth.
Exit Productions specialises in immersive theatre, and the transition from actual to virtual has been made with skill and care. It’s a thrilling and wholly engrossing experience, in which your enjoyment depends entirely on your willingness to take part.
Created by: Tom Black, Sofia Romualdo, Megan Louise Clifton, Karolina Soltys and Tom Williams
Directed by: Joe Ball
Produced by: Exit Productions
Booking until: As long as audiences are interested