“This Is Your Trial”

Promo image for This Is Your Trial, from Edinburgh Fringe 2014This Is Your Laugh
Assembly George Square
St. James Theatre 29th September
Reviewed 23rd August
5 stars

Within minutes of entering the venue – almost even before the show has started – I have serious doubts as to whether I’m going to enjoy This Is Your Trial. Not because of any fault on the part of the performers; rather because a crew of upjumped swaggering drunks has wandered in and are spreading over the back row like a fungal infection.

There’s heckling, and then there’s just shouting catchphrases from The Hangover at inopportune moments. Loud chatter and louder belching, sexist and homophobic remarks, attention-seeking: I’m sure if Nuts came and set up a Hall of Nosepicking and Baps at the Fringe next year, they’d make a bundle off this demographic and spare the rest of us their company.

So I’ve not cheered more heartily than when Trevor Lock called one of these anachronisms down as the first defendant, charged with ‘smuggling bellends into a nice place full of nice people’. Such a bold move demonstrates the brilliance of the show’s structure, a mix of stag party roast, debate and improv sketch. We’re invited to experience both shadenfreude and the smugness of justice fulfilled, along with some belly laughs.

Tim Fitzingham plays the role of the judge beautifully, and the advocates for the evening where aptly filled by John Hastings and Jess Fostekew. The latter are rotating roles, although many comedians return more than once. Defendants, witnesses and jury are played by the audience and although some unlucky souls will be put on the stand, they’re always nominated by friends and treated gently. Unless you’re a nob, in which case you’ll be singled out and satisfyingly blasted.

It’s procedural comedy, and much of the fun is derived from the routines and rituals that we go through. In a classical sense, it’s banausic bathos – we’re all the rude mechanicals play-acting at the legal establishment, with its self-serious wiggery and robe-ishness and ceremony. But on a more prosaic level, we’re all just enjoying a bit of a laugh from a couple of professional comedians having a gentle dig at our mate.

With such strong comedians behind it (and such a strong production team behind them), This Is Your Trial ensures a solid night of comedy with a refreshingly unique format.

EU < Patrick

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