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The Inquest review

Review: The Inquest, online via Zoom

Back in June 2020, Exit Productions broke the lockdown dearth of live theatre by bringing Jury Duty to a Zoom audience, with much critical acclaim. Now they’re back with another show, once more using Zoom as their platform. The story concerns Cambridge student Scott Davies, found drowned and naked in the River Cam in 2010. At the time, the inquest returned an open verdict. Fast forward ten years, and the Coroner (Joe Ball) has summoned you to a remote inquest in an attempt to clear the backlog of unsolved cases. Working with the other jurors, you start by listening…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

An entertaining if exhausting interactive puzzle in which you gradually uncover the truth of a cold case death.

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Back in June 2020, Exit Productions broke the lockdown dearth of live theatre by bringing Jury Duty to a Zoom audience, with much critical acclaim. Now they’re back with another show, once more using Zoom as their platform.

The story concerns Cambridge student Scott Davies, found drowned and naked in the River Cam in 2010. At the time, the inquest returned an open verdict. Fast forward ten years, and the Coroner (Joe Ball) has summoned you to a remote inquest in an attempt to clear the backlog of unsolved cases.

Working with the other jurors, you start by listening to audio testimonies taken from Davies’ friends at the time. Via Google Docs – you’ll need plenty of screen space to open all the documents – you can read through the coroner’s report, check snapshots of the friends’ social media pages and scrutinise other evidence as you try to ascertain what really happened.

The show gets off to a slow start, with five pieces of audio to listen to before, with your fellow jurors, you’ve given access to The Archivist (Tom Black) who will help track down any more evidence that may be lurking in the case files. At first, you’re left a little baffled, not knowing what to ask for; but you gradually spot inconsistencies in the evidence that lead you deeper into the intrigue.

One fact leads to another. You’ll have to decode passwords to decipher phone records, which will reveal Google Maps locations that pinpoint who was where and, critically, when. You’ll uncover deeply-buried secrets in your quest to reveal the truth. At a key point, a game-changing revelation – discovered through a casual remark in a text message stream – moves the action onto a different plane, giving it a new urgency.

At key moments you or your fellow jurors might receive an email or a text message, which will help in your quest. Uncovering the clues and cross-checking the references is a hugely enjoyable but fully active engagement over the hour and three quarters of the performance. This is no comfy armchair experience: you’ll have to concentrate to arrive at the truth. 

Part theatre, part interactive puzzle game, Exit Productions have once again brought the thrill of a live performance into your home with skill and panache. All it needs is for the first ten minutes to be imbued with a little more sparkle.

Authors: Joe Ball and Tom Black
Producer: Edward Andrews and Eleanor Russo, Exit Productions Ltd

The Inquest is currently booking throughout January, full details can be found on their website.

About Steve Caplin

Steve is a freelance artist and writer, specialising in Photoshop, who builds unlikely furniture in his spare time. He plays the piano reasonably well, the accordion moderately and the guitar badly. Steve does, of course, love the theatre. The worst play he ever saw starred Charlton Heston and his wife, who have both always wanted to play the London stage. Neither had any experience of learning lines. This was almost as scarring an experience as seeing Ron Moody performing a musical Sherlock Holmes. Steve has no acting ambitions whatsoever.