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REVIEW: Twelve Angry Men


Venue: Everyman Theatre

“Twelve Angry Men” is a tale of twelve jurors deliberating the fate of an accused murderer. What appears to be a closed case is muddled by Juror 8, who acts on his conscience and insists that the accused is innocent. The tension rises as themes of doubt, conflict, and morals fly about the stage in a flurry of powerful and at times intense dialogue.

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Originally a teleplay written in 1954, the story was adapted into a stage play in 1955 and a feature film in 1957 featuring Henry Fonda, which has been described as “one of the great must-sees of all time”. We were delighted to be back at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham to witness – pun intended – this new take on the almost 70-year old play.

Before the play began, the head of the Everyman Theatre came out on-stage to give a lovely eulogy to the late theatre producer Bill Kenwright, whose production company was behind this latest production of Twelve Angry Men. This production features a sparkling cast of soap stars, including Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing in Dallas), Gray O’Brien, and Tristan Gemmill (Coronation Street).

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Patrick Duffy’s quiet, dignified, and soft-spoken portrayal of Juror 8 instantly charmed the audience, and made every other character seem cartoonish in comparison. These other characters were wonderfully acted, including the over-zealous bigot whose prejudices cloud his judgement, and the straight-laced juror who spoke and acted a little like Sam the Eagle.

While at times the characters may seem larger-than-life, with their bombastic accents and booming voices, the court case keeps the characters grounded, and their logic and actions make sense within the confines of the jury room. The staging was also fantastic, with real rain effects on the windows and scenery that kept the action fresh and realistic.

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The play could easily have been a very formal courtroom drama, but there are moments of humour that alleviated the tension and added to the jurors' decisions. The comedy allowed the audience to participate in the mystery of the case - we laughed at the jurors' mistakes, which helped us empathise and agree with Juror 8’s arguments.

Twelve Angry Men is such an enduring play because the trial is applicable to almost every culture. The themes of compassion, understanding, and the breaking down of prejudice make this play more relevant now than ever.

I would certainly recommend Twelve Angry Men, showing at the Everyman Theatre from Monday 6th to Saturday 11th November. Get your tickets now!

Review by Leah



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