Review - Twelve Angry MenThis is a featured page

Review taken from We Love Bearwood

9 October 2013

Twelve Angry Men @ The REP, Tuesday 8th October 2013

Review - Twelve Angry Men - Robert Vaughn

The REP’s first season since moving back home has already won some rave reviews and this powerful revival of Twelve Angry Men looks set to maintain the winning streak.

For anyone not familiar with the plot (first revealed in a TV play back in 1954 before being made into a classic movie three years later) the premise is relatively simple, a jury of twelve men are locked in a room to consider a murder case. So far so straightforward. On the surface the defendant looks as guilty as sin too and all but one of the jury vote accordingly. Could this be the world’s shortest play? Happily for the audience...and the man has his doubts though. Twelve Angry Men sees these examined, in turn forcing each of the jurors to reconsider their verdict and, ultimately, their own prejudices. This makes it perhaps the ultimate ensemble piece, giving each cast member their own moment in the spotlight.

Review - Twelve Angry Men - Robert Vaughn

It’s a suitably impressive line up as well including Martin Shaw who casts aside his Judge John Deed robes to take the role Henry Fonda made his own in the movie, Nick Moran (currently appearing in BBC2’s comedy The Wrong Mans) and The Man From U.N.C.L.E himself, Robert Vaughn (a mere 80 years young). Shaw perfectly maintains that calm, measured approach that makes his character so convincing whilst Jeff Fahey provides the yang to his ying as the short tempered and stubborn ‘Juror number 3’. Somewhere between the two is where most of us fall and the rest of the cast bring a whole (nut)case of particular traits that we can all identify with. That, in part, is the genius of the piece. Within such a pressure cooker environment, simply but effectively depicted and lit in this production, all human characteristics are laid bare and you’re drawn in, becoming more and more involved as the drama unfolds. Inevitably you wind up asking yourself the same questions as the jurors, making this a particularly powerful theatrical experience.

Review - Twelve Angry Men - Robert Vaughn

As the evidence is picked and argued over there’s neat bit of symbolism that shows how things are developing too – the table the jurors are sat around subtly moves. So engrossed were we in the action that we didn’t actually see it happen, but throughout the evening it rotated 360 degrees...a literal manifestation of turning the table on the original verdict.

Each and every one of the cast impressed. Miles Richardson nailed the gruff garage owner ‘Juror number 10’, Martin Turner crafted a particularly accurate portrayal of the immigrant watchmaker, ‘Juror number 11’ and Owen O’Neill wisecracked his way through the performance as ad exec ‘Juror number 12’.

Review - Twelve Angry Men - Robert Vaughn

Vaughn’s portrayal of Juror number 9 as a slightly frail and confused character was so convincing at times that I feared for his health. Seeing him striding across the floor after the show allayed any such fears though. A masterclass in the actor’s art.

Atmospheric, brilliantly produced and acted and well paced throughout (with a surprising number of chuckles to provide some light relief) this is one revival of Twelve Angry Men that truly deserves to be ‘court’.

Twelve Angry Men is on at The REP until 19th October before transferring to the West End.

PS: After the well deserved curtain calls actor Samuel West (not appearing in the show himself) delivered one of the most powerful speeches about the importance of theatre that I’ve ever heard. Faced with savage cutbacks there’s a real concern that some theatres risk going the same way as the dodo and there’s now a simple campaign ‘My Theatre Matters’ designed to ensure that those in power remember just that. If you’ve ever been to the theatre or, perhaps more importantly, ever plan to do so it’s well worth supporting.

All photos taken by Robert Day and cannot be reproduced without his permission. If you do you'll probably end up in court there.

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