Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose is a 20th century classic; since it was first produced in 1957 it has been a staple of the repertoire. Its ongoing popularity is due to the fact that it raises universal questions about the extent to which we are all prey to our prejudices and assumptions. The play is set in a courtroom on a hot summer’s day: the twelve men of the title are the jurors in an apparently open-and-shut murder case. However, as the play progresses, it become clear that nothing is quite as it seems, and even the most seemingly straightforward facts are open to question.
The day boys’ production, directed by Sam Mitchell with consummate professionalism, captured the play’s building tension. One of the challenges of directing a very wordy and potentially static play is filling the stage with dynamic movement, and it is great credit to the ensemble that they managed to keep the piece visually interesting, whilst focusing on telling the story.
Particular credit should go to Dan Iles and Ben King, who were unafraid to own the stage as they gave vent to their character’s – frequently repugnant – views. This is truly an ensemble piece, and each of the jurors deserve praise for the way that they established a clearly defined character, from Antoine Legeais as the European immigrant to Alec Barnes as a kind but lonely old man. The production was, however, held together by Luke Lloyd-Jones as the honourable juror eight, whose fundamental decency and refusal to give in to prejudice ultimately saves the defendant’s life.
Congratulations to all involved.
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