Initially written for television by Reginald Rose but later adapted for the stage and made into a 1957 Oscar-nominated Hollywood film produced by and starring Henry Fonda, Twelve Angry Men introduces us to twelve jurors who are tasked with the job of deciding the fate of a black sixteen year old boy accused of killing his father. What initially appears to be a cut and dried case of a boy from the wrong side of the tracks soon becomes a huge dilemma for the twelve, as their own personal prejudices and preconceived ideas about the accused, the trail and indeed themselves begin to get in the way of their decision making.
Award winning actor Tom Conti reprises his role as Juror 8, in this touring production directed by Christopher Haydon and produced by Bill Kenwright. Conti is the voice of reason whose insistence on the belief of ‘reasonable doubt’ keeps him and his fellow jurors locked in debate in the stifling jury room until a unanimous decision can be made.
Andrew Lancel most recently seen as Frank Foster on the cobbles in Coronation Street takes on the role of angry and emotional, Juror 3, insistent they must deliver a guilty verdict while influenced by his own disastrous relationship with his estranged son. Denis Lill gives a tremendous performance as Juror 10, grumpy, irritable and difficult; it’s hard to fathom how a unanimous decision will ever be reached. The ensemble cast work brilliantly together, the strong characterisation is highly impressive.
The set designed by Michael Pavelka adds to the power of the production, the close, claustrophobic environment of the juror’s room on a scorching evening in Manhattan is perfectly expressed. With a very slowly revolving table at the centre of the stage, we’re enabled to see the rest of the jury from the perspective of each juror.
Thought provoking, challenging and witty Twelve Angry Men is a great piece of theatre. Showing at The Lowry as part of its national tour until Saturday 28th March.