Site-specific theatre tends to be at its driest when a play gets plonked in the actual setting of its story. Playing Jabine Chaudri’s legal drama in the disused courtroom above Brown’s restaurant mainly serves to show it ‘My Daughter’s Trial’ as unconvincing, bloated and overstewed.
Defence barrister Parveen Akhram (Goldy Notay) is having a terrible day. In court, she’s up against an ex – the man she left for an arranged marriage that subsequently crumbled – and the case in hand is all too close to old wounds. At home, her mother is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and her father is suffering from her mother. She’s no choice but to take mum to work.
Chaudri, a barrister herself, concentrates on arranged marriage, but presents too clear-cut a case against. It’s also too blinkered a focus, ignoring fascinating – and pressing – questions about the law in multicultural Britain.
Mostly though, ‘My Daughter’s Trial’ fails as drama. It’s crammed with handy conveniences, heavy with exposition and psychologically unpersuasive: the stuff of soap, really.
Even as straightforward legal drama, it falters: the defendant opts not to testify and the case remains rather unresolved. Janet Steel’s production is neat and tidy enough, particularly when handling two locations simultaneously, but her cast tend towards emotional outpouring. Matt Trueman