Twelve Angry Men

February 24, 2015 | By | Reply More

✭✭✭✭✩    Cleverly committed

Engaging, dynamic and clever, Christopher Haydon’s hit West End production of Twelve Angry Men tours to the King’s Theatre for a week until Saturday.

There is a subtle elegance to this portrayal of Reginald Rose’s 1957 film, which delivers a rollercoaster of emotions, but still manages to maintain a tense and fraught atmosphere.

Tom Conti stars as Juror Number 8. Photo: Twelve Angry Men

Tom Conti stars as Juror Number 8. Photo: Twelve Angry Men

In a compelling drama of conscience, Twelve Angry Men tells the tale of a jury tasked with deciding a 16 year old boy’s fate. It’s not the decision between guilt and innocence, but a story of reasonable doubt. Even more, it’s a story about the dynamics of the human psyche, its prejudices and preconceptions and how humans interact with each other.

Haydon’s production is both bold and punchy. It comes out fighting, with plenty of pizzazz and zing with a few dominant unnamed jurors leading the way – namely Andrew Lancel, Sean Power and Dennis Lill as Jurors 3, 7 and 10. They’re loud, they’re brash and they demand attention. It soon becomes apparent that these jurors each have their own motivations. Albeit sometimes a touch overplayed and unnatural, they play a dynamic game that is as engrossing as it is awkward in the quiet American deliberation room.

However, it is the negative space between the shouting and the commotion that is the most compelling. Tom Conti plays Juror number 8, the calm and measured man who is uncomfortable committing a man to the death sentence when reasonable doubt remains. Conti’s performance is subtle; he plays the man with an air of weariness. As he makes his case with the other jurors, he does so with an odd air of defeat, compelling an unrequited interest in his circumstances and situation.

clever and interesting dynamic

Likewise, it is the other quieter characters that also provoke interest. It is the words that are unsaid that seem to matter most. In a particularly taut scene, Juror 5 (Alexander Forsyth) and Juror 11 (Edward Halsted) seek respite in the washroom away from the main prejudiced hullabaloo. Neither say a word, but their actions are deafening, drawing attention. It adds a clever and interesting dynamic on the production that involves the audience in the emotion and minutiae of the moment.

A scene from Twelve Angry Men.

A scene from Twelve Angry Men.

There’s a lot of humour in Rose’s cleverly crafted script. Both intentional and seemingly unintended, and again it’s the negative space that shines. While Gareth David-Lloyd (Juror 12) delivers the contrived humour well as the socially-awkward turncoat, it’s the unexpected moments that inspire laughter as the unlikely personalities interact.

The production also boasts a clever and resourceful set. A seemingly simple table and chairs is transformed, through clever movement, to give the audience clear views from all sides and, at times, providing that sense of claustrophobia of 12 men locked into a small room. The constant Jurors’ Jailor, played by Jon Carver, seated outside the room throughout intensifies this feeling. The lighting and sound effects too are understated but effective, from the scene-setting L-train to the atmospheric thunderstorm as the ambience darkens.

Some of the initial interactions in the first half occasionally feel a little contrived and overplayed. However, far from diminishing from the performance, this exuberance oddly adds to the production. There is no doubt as to the commitment of the cast and creative team who deliver an all-engrossing, all-absorbing, engaging production.

Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes (including interval)
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ
Monday 23 – Saturday 28 February 2015
Evenings: 7.30 pm; Matinee Wednesday, Saturday: 2.30 pm
Tickets from http://www.edtheatres.com/twelveangrymen

Purchase the script and original film from Amazon:

 

Twelve Angry Men on tour:
23-28 Feb Edinburgh
Kings Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
2-7 Mar Cheltenham
Everyman Theatre
01242 572 573 Book online
9-14 Mar Guildford
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
01483 440 000 Book online
16-21 Mar Dublin
Bord Gais Theatre
0844 847 2455 Book online
23-28 Mar Salford
The Lowry Lyric Theatre
0843 208 6003 Book online
30 Mar-4 Apr Bath
Theatre Royal
01225 448 844 Book online
6-11 Apr Leeds
Grand Theatre
0844 848 2700 Book online
13-18 Apr York
Grand Opera Theatre
8448713024 Book online
20-25 Apr Llandudno
Venue Cymru
0844 848 2700 Book online
27 Apr-2 May Richmond
Richmond Theatre
8448717651 Book online
11-16 May Southend
Palace Theatre
1702351135 Book online
18-23 May Wolverhampton
Grand Theatre
01902 429 212 Book online
1-6 Jun Barnstaple
Queen’s Theatre
01271 324 242 Book online
8-13 Jun Croydon
Ashcroft Theatre
0208 6889291 Book online
15-20 Jun Newcastle
Theatre Royal
08448 112 121 Book online
22-27 Jun Glasgow
Theatre Royal
8448717647 Book online
More dates due to be announced

ENDS

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