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Often harrowing ‘The Jury’ questions judicial system

For anyone who has ever served as a juror on a murder trial, Off-Leash Area’s dance-theater production “The Jury” should not be missed. On the other hand, depending on your experience, it could induce post-traumatic stress disorder.

In the fall of 2008, Off-Leash Area’s dance-theater production, “The Jury,” was at the top of my shows-not-to-be-missed list.

Artistic and life partners Jennifer Ilse (a dancer, choreographer and director) and Paul Herwig (sets, actor, writer) based the production — which they performed in their garage (as is their tradition) — on Ilse’s experience as a juror on a murder trial.

In the often harrowing work, which probed the social complexities of growing up poor, parental and drug abuse, and the dead-end (no pun intended) life of an angry white girl, Ilse kinetically embodied that young woman as she relived the events leading to the alcohol-fueled evening when she did, or she didn’t cause her boyfriend’s death.

Since then, Off-Leash has made other works, such as last year’s “Ivan the Drunk.” For my review go here.

This weekend, the couple revives “The Jury” for Off-Leash’s 10th anniversary. The new version includes haunting body casts that stand in for the jurors, an original score by Reid Kruger, and an expanded group of performers that includes dancers Karla Grotting, Adena Brumer, Brian Evans, Bryan Gerber, Kaori Kenmotsu, Jennifer Mack and John Zeiler.

You’ll leave the show questioning our judicial system, with a mix of compassion and disgust for the young woman on trial, and wondering how you would have voted on the verdict.

For excerpts of Off-Leash’s past work, go here.

“The Jury.” 8 p.m., Jan. 28-31, Feb. 1-6. Red Eye Theater, Minneapolis. Tickets $15-$18; 612-724-7372.

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