On Tuesday night my Sister and I went to see this play. It has been decades since we saw the Henry Fonda film but were intrigued.
The cast were excellent, Martin Shaw [juror 8], Jeff Fahey [juror 3], Nick Moran [juror 7], Robert Vaughn [juror 9]. Some may remember Shaw from tv programmes like The Professionals, The Chief, Judge John Deed etc, Fahey was in Lock Stock and a few other blockbuster films, I am sure many of you know Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo in the Men From U.N.C.L.E. [no brownie points for knowing that acronym]. The rest of the cast were Paul Anthony-Barber [juror 4], Robert Blythe [juror 6], David Calvitto [juror 2], Edward Franklin [juror 5], Owen O’Neill [juror 12], Miles Richardson [juror 10], Luke Shaw [juror 1], Martin Turner [juror 11] and Jason Riddington as the Guard. Hmm, always thought thesps were the superstitious types, 13 in the cast, 13 on stage .. but thankfully the fates left well alone.
The plot surrounds 12 men good and true in 1950’s America, serving as jury on a murder trial where a boy of 16 is accused of murdering his father – a crime for which the death penalty lies. It was interesting to see the complexities of a group of people all seeing and hearing the same thing [the trial] yet entering a room full of opinions and prejudices and closed minds. It illustrated all that is bad and all that is good about the jury system. Essentially the slum-living forgotten child is let down by his court appointed Lawyer, all believing that the evidence is too too tight to be dispute or questioned. But one man, juror number 8, thinks and questions and slowly pulls apart the prosecutions case and the witness statements, as one by one the fellow jurors change their determined “Guilty” vote to “Not Guilty”.
Watching the film you forget the off hand comment and the humourous twists, where a large audience do and yes you laugh out loud. The knife used is thought to be unique but the night previous [it was a three day trial, be three months in this day and age] juror 8 had taken a wander around the neighbourhood and purchased an identical knife, both were stuck in the jury room table; during a discussion a protagonist grab the knife to show its use and a small voice says “That’s the wrong knife’, the protagonists point rendered mute.
It was not until the end of the first half that my Sister asked me about the table, I had not noticed it had slowly revolved around, it started at curtain up in the | position, small end to the audience, by the end of the first half it was much more of a , having travelled almost 180º. I never noticed it move, it was so subtle. We also noticed that with this play there were no use of microphones [as has been the case with others].
It was skilful, artful, poignant, and entertaining. I wish it well for it’s up-coming West End debut.