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Twelve angry men artwork

all about theatre twelve star review

Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose is currently on a UK tour after a record-breaking West End season, I was invited to review the show at its stop at The Lowry in Salford.

Twelve Angry men started out as a teleplay in 1954 but it is best known from the 1957 film adaptation which stared Henry Fonda.

Twelve angry men UK tour production shot

The play is set in 1950's New York and tells the story of a jury of twelve men, these men have the responsibility of deciding whether a 16 year old boy is guilty of murdering his own father, knowing that if they do find him guilty, he will be sentenced to death. The audience do not get to hear any of the trial as the play starts as the twelve jury members are about to start their deliberations, so all the audience's knowledge of the case comes from the Jurors accounts and opinions of the trial. Initially 11 of the 12 Jurors believe the boy to be guilty and it is just Juror number 8 (Jason Merrells) who believers that there is enough reasonable doubt that the boy should be found Not Guilty. Juror number 8 then askes the other Jurors to explain to him why they each believe the boy is guilty and he in turn points out the holes in their reasoning.

Twelve angry men UK tour production shot

The play doesn't have much action in it and relies heavily on the dialogue, the scrip is well written, it's intelligent and engaging, it subtly builds suspension as the case unravels and cleverly touches on themes of class and prejudice as the jurors each argue their case as to why they believe the boy is guilty. Even though the play is quite tense and serious a good dose of humour has been cleverly woven into the script.

Twelve angry men UK tour production shot

Michael Pavelka is the set and costume designer, and he has done an excellent job, the set and costumes both reflect the time period in which the play is set. The play has a single static set which depicts the deliberation room and adjoining toilets, the toilet space features a couple of old-fashioned looking sinks and a paper towel dispenser. This toilet space was used effectively as a breakout area where conversations occurred between factions of the group. The centrepiece of the set is a large table which subtly rotates throughout the play. At the back of the stage there are three large window set piece with windows that can be slid open and shut, there was a ceiling fan over the deliberation table and one on the wall and there was a water dispenser at the front of the stage on the righthand side. As the play is set on a hot humid day the windows and fans were used effectively to help visualise the heat conditions. As the tension is rising in the deliberation room a storm is brewing outside, this is visualised well by rain on the windows and with Chris Davey's lighting design as he creates flashes of lightning through the windows.

Twelve angry men UK tour production shot

The cast for this show is fantastic and this is a great ensemble piece as all twelve Jurors are on stage for the entire show. The entire cast delivered a great performance as they make the characters feel like real people rather than broad stereotypes. Jason Merrell as Juror number 8 stood out for me, he gave a strong, captivating and nuanced performance, as his character challenged the other jurors and got them to reconsider their verdicts.

Twelve angry men UK tour production shot

I thoroughly enjoyed Twelve Angry Men it is a gripping courtroom drama and despite being written in the 1950's the themes it explores are still relevant today. The play has a fantastic cast who all gave exceptional performances bringing depth and nuance to their characters. If you are a fan of true crime and courtroom drams then this is definitely the play for you.

Twelve Angry Men is on at The Lowry until Saturday 2nd March 2024, you can purchase tickets by clicking on the button below.

If you would like more information about the musical and see where it will be touring to please click the button below.

Photo Credit - Jack Merriman

*Our tickets for this show were kindly gifted in exchange for an honest review


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