Conflict in Court / Silence in Court @ New Town Theatre
Liam Rudden’s plays Conflict in Court and Silence in Court are theatre-experiences unlike any other that are currently on show in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Both follow the same similar structure of a courtroom drama, where the suspects are on trial for crimes they claim they have not committed. There are no actors playing the jury, however; the audience has been left that honour. Not only do the characters of the courtroom interact with the audience, but also the audience is allowed to pose them questions and probe their excuses as the accused stand trial.
Conflict in Court only began at the Fringe this year, after Silence in Court gained such momentum in popularity that it was decided that another had to be written. It is evident to witness why such a concept has attracted so much attention. For the audience is quickly tempted to forget that they have actually paid to see a play, and choose instead to take the matter of the trial with the upmost seriousness. In fact, at this performance, the security man who is in charge of regulating the audience-jury has to continuously remind them that it is a ‘mock trial’. The jury is so engrossed in a heated passion as they debate their verdict that some of them forget that it is not real.
The venue of the New Town Theatre only further deceives the theatre into believing that the trial is genuine. The wooden panels and the old-fashion décor prove the setting of a judge’s courtroom. The judge himself sits on his pedestal, high above the rest of the throng of the people; he presides over the crowd below, the reason of calm above the squabbling lawyers. It's all very convincing. While other productions at the Fringe boast to promote intellectual discussion and reasoning upon leaving the theatre, Conflict in Court and Silence in Court can claim to do so during the actual play itself.