Theatre Review: Terror

Engaging and outstanding local production of an international courtroom drama.

Presented by: Red Phoenix Theatre and Holden Street Theatres
Reviewed: 20 October, 2022

Holden Street Theatres and Red Phoenix Theatre have put on a captivating local production of Terror, a 2015 play by German lawyer and writer Ferdinand von Schirach.

Terror places the audience in the position of the jury, their role to absorb all the play’s details and acts in order to come to a verdict that will ultimately decide how the play will end.

The entire case centres around Major Lars Koch (Fahad Farooque), a fighter pilot, who takes the decision to shoot down a hijacked plane that was headed to a packed football (soccer) stadium. The decision to kill a few to save the many lands Koch on trial for murder. The decision around guilt is for the jury (the audience) to decide.

With the audience set in the position of the jurors, the play then begins inside a courtroom, the main events that are the focus of the play having already occurred and awaiting retelling from witnesses.

The full stage is set as the courtroom. The positioning of tables and the judge cast directly out to those who will be making a judgment. The lights are deliberately spotted on the audience to highlight their role in the play. There were even cracks through the backdrop to hint at the age of the building and fractures that feature within the testimonies.

Terror showed excellent performances from the actors. Their moments in character acted as if they were constantly in focus and under judgement from the audience. The small facial expressions in response to the main scenes provided humorous and subtle nods at their individual characteristics.
There are occasions that drift between realism of a day in court, the expected exposition required for an entertainment audience, and at times caricatures of the performers’ roles for injections of comedy. This was contrasted nicely with the sections of needed intensity that were strongly performed and functioned as a reminder of the seriousness of the topics at hand.

It was an engaging production with many layers to the characters on show. It provided for plenty of thoughts on right and wrong, guilty and not guilty, and explored within and beyond the ideas of the trolley problem.

The Adelaide production of Terror is directed by Brant Eustice and Tracey Walker. It also features performances from Rachel Burfield as Nelson the State Prosecutor, Samuel Creighton as the Bailiff, Bart Csorba as Biegler the Defence Counsel, Pete Davies as Christian Lauterbach, Ruby Faith as the Stenographer, Sharon Malujlo as the Presiding Judge, and Kate van der Horst as Franziska Meiser.

Terror runs at The Studio at Holden Street Theatres until the 29th October.

Reviewed by: Alex Dunkin

Photo credit: Richard Parkhill

Venue: The Studio, Holden Street Theatres
Season: 20 – 29 October, 2022
Duration: 2.5 hours (including 20min intermission)
Tickets: $21-$27
Bookings: http://holdenstreettheatres.com/index.php/What-s-On/terror

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