It’s surely beyond all reasonable doubt that Twelve Angry Men will be a huge hit.
This new Bill Kenwright production, at Norwich Theatre Royal this week prior to the West End, pays homage to the 1957 film version starring Henry Fonda, and is of such class that it may well become a classic in its own right.
Twelve jurors are locked in a jury room on a humid Chicago day to deliberate on a murder case which could see a young man, who is accused of killing his father, go to the electric chair.
Eleven jurors think him guilty, one believes there is ‘reasonable doubt’. As the arguments are batted back and forward, individual characters’ prejudices and preconceptions come to light, and the tables slowly start to turn.
Part of the stark, understated and highly effective set makes use of a slowly turning table to demonstrate just that as the explosive tensions build and fall, and one by one each juror starts to question their own stance.
The cast line up is pure class and it was a privilege to watch each actor work his craft.
Martin Shaw was the face of stoic fairness in the face of anger and bitterness as he calmly and firmly insisted the evidence should be examined. Robert Vaughn, now a little frail, was incisive. Miles Richardson and Nick Moran were superb as two bigoted jurors and there were other superb performances from Jeff Fahey and Martin Turner.
It was highly powerful and thought-provoking drama and a masterclass in acting.