Directed by Jarrad West
Queanbeyan Bicentennial Hall to 24 November
Reviewed by Len Power 14 November 2018
Based on his personal experience as a juror in a manslaughter trial, Reginald Rose wrote ’12 Angry Men’ for an anthology television series, CBS Studio One, in the USA in 1954. A famous movie version starring Henry Fonda was released in 1957. Rose later adapted the script as a play which was staged in London in 1964. It made its Broadway debut 50 years later in 2004.
Taking place entirely in a jury room, the play focusses on twelve jurors who must decide whether a young man on trial is guilty of murder. A mandatory death sentence will be the punishment. At the start of the play, eleven jurors are convinced of the young man’s guilt but one jury member disagrees.
Director, Jarrad West, has assembled a dream cast of local actors to perform this intense, fascinating play. Played in the round on the auditorium floor of Queanbeyan’s Bicentennial Hall, West keeps the play moving at a furious pace without an interval, building the tension to a satisfying and breathless climax.
Everyone in this ensemble cast has their moment to shine. The director has obtained fine, in depth performances from each of them. While some of the characters are more prominent in the play than others, the performance of every member of the cast is believable at every moment of the play.
Martin Searles’ set design gave the show the right period atmosphere in the playing space and Tim Hansen created a fine sound design that had the audience wondering if a real thunderstorm was rolling in over Queanbeyan. Fiona Leach produced some fine period costumes.
The use of the Bicentennial Hall was problematic with the echo created by the high ceiling making it difficult to hear the dialogue clearly. This problem was made worse when actors seated at the table for long periods with their backs to us were speaking. It was hard to hear what they saying for about the first half hour from the fifth and back row in the audience. Sightlines to the performing area were also difficult with audience members’ heads in the way as actors moved around the set.
Nevertheless, this was another memorable Everyman production with strong direction and fine acting.
Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast in his ‘On Stage’ performing arts radio program on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3.30pm on Artsound FM 92.7.