Leeds-List: The Best & Most Insightful Guide to Leeds

Review: Trial by Jury

· Ali Turner · Culture

Hold onto your hats as Opera North take you on a rip-roaring ride in this courtroom drama.

Opera North Trial by Jury

If you’re feeling down, if you need a laugh, if you just want a night out that will put a smile on your face – Trial by Jury is the show to book.

On paper, Trial by Jury sounds batshit crazy – and honestly, it ain’t any different on the stage. Director John Savournin has taken Gilbert and Sullivan’s mini-masterpiece and turned it into 45-minutes of laugh-out-loud moments, in a bright, colourful production that finishes all too soon. Seriously, the time absolutely flies by – and man, has he jam-packed every minute of it.

Opera North Trial by Jury

Credit: Robert Workman

One of my favourite things about this opera is the way he’s set it up. Within the first 2 minutes, you’ve got the whole story. You know who’s who and what’s going on because their oh-so-handy reporter whizzes you through the backstory. Then there’s the fact that it’s in English. For me, there’s something magical about the sound of foreign languages in song, but this is just so easy to watch – no subtitles, no subtleties, just good old-fashioned fun.

And it is fun. The stage is loaded with people and there’s something going on everywhere you look. From the runaway pooch that has everyone in fits of giggles to the smitten jurors and the ever-so-slightly drunken judge, you could see Trial by Jury three or four times and spot something different every time.

Opera North Trial by Jury

Credit: Robert Workman

There’s another benefit to having so many people on stage – when they all sing together, the sound is immense. Trial by Jury is very much about the chorus and they absolutely smash it, their voices rolling over one another in what can only be described as the musical version of organised chaos. It’s incredible to watch and impossible to comprehend. Honestly, I don’t know how they do it.

Of all the operas I’ve seen, Trial by Jury is by far the easiest to watch. You don’t have to concentrate, it just carries you away on a wave of ridiculousness and drops you off 45 minutes later with a smile on your face. I don’t think you’ll ever find a better ‘first time’ opera, so if you’ve been pondering going, why not do it with something light, something funny and something utterly bonkers?

Trial by Jury is at Leeds Grand Theatre until 17th November 2017.