Trial by Jury, performed at theSpaceTriplex, is a rollicking operatic performance that is most certainly a gem amongst the many shows of the Edinburgh Fringe. The performers shine on their small stage, clearly enjoying their comedic roles while also showcasing their vocal talent. This one-act 45-minute delight almost feels too short; the audience is so absorbed in the production that they feel as if they just sat down when the last musical number ends.
Trial by Jury is a well-established operetta, first performed in 1875 in London, and this performance in 2022 does justice to its operatic forebearer. The setting of this operetta is slightly different from the original; this version of the operetta is set in 1968. Setting the performance in the sixties allows the performance to showcase some fun sixties fashion: fun dresses, little heels, and striking floral patterns.
While the production is quite small, with a limited cast and minimal stage design, the exuberance of the singers fills the room and keeps the energy high. The judge, with his comic airs and charming ridiculousness, is a highly entertaining satiric character. Angelina, the dejected and money-hungry ex-fiancee, has a strong beautiful voice and a comedic talent for hysterical dramatics. Other side characters, such as Angelina’s counsel and her flower girls, earnestly try to help her while showcasing their own musicality.
The live orchestra, situated right beside the action happening on stage, makes the experience all the more enjoyable. Watching the conductor and the instrumentalists passionately play beautiful music, while also occasionally joining in on the comical antics on stage, adds a playful liveliness to the production.
Moreover, the old-school choreographed dancing and the physicality of the charming comedic antics make the performance a captivating spectacle.
The satirization of the legal system indeed turns a serious matter of a trial into a rambunctious and ridiculous affair. The preposterous decisions of the judge and the buffoonery of all those in the court display an important legal proceeding in a ludicrous light. Still, an important point is made in this amusing and wacky operetta: a trial is a performance, a very public proceeding, and thus all those involved become a sort of actor. The truth may be overshadowed by ulterior motives and performative demonstrations. (Shakespeare said it first, ‘all the world’s a stage.’). Ultimately, the satiric elements of this production illustrate a universal truth of performativity.
If you find yourself wanting to watch a comical musical extravaganza, Trial by Jury is not an operetta to miss. Even those unfamiliar with opera will surely find joy in the charming costumes, the hilarious antics, and the talented vocalists in the cast. Trial by Jury feels like a timeless classic — sophisticated yet ridiculous, cleverly produced yet light and fun.
Trial by Jury is showing at theSpace Triplex – Big (End On), August 22-27 at 13:45.
Image credit: courtesy of Trial by Jury, provided to The Student as press material.