Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Twelve Angry Men | Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Photo Credit: Birmingham REP
Photo Credit: Daily Mail

Going into the theatre for Twelve Angry Men, I really didn't know what to expect. I knew nothing about the plot or any of the actors so it was quite refreshing to go into something with no preconceived ideas about whether or not I was going to enjoy it. I'm pleased to say I really did and I'm very glad that I decided to see the show.

let's start with the plot- it's incredibly simple. 12 men of a jury for a murder trial in New York City are locked in a room and given the task of deciding the verdict. The stakes are high as the death penalty will be fulfilled if the man is found guilty, but if they wrongly find him innocent it means a dangerous man would be walking the streets. I won't give too much away but a unanimous vote is needed for the decision to be made, and as you can imagine, it doesn't come easily. It's a very gripping story and I really felt like I was getting involved, thinking things over in my mind and trying to decide for myself what the verdict was.

The idea of a whole play taking place in one room did worry me slightly- how could they keep me focused for over two hours in one setting? One of the reasons this worked was because each actor clearly had a very strong character to portray and they stuck to it throughout, whether the centre of attention or sitting in a corner not really being involved. They were all completely believable and each actor had their moment in the spotlight, their opportunity to put their character's views and back story out there.

Another reason I think it worked so well was the set. I'm a sucker for interesting sets and this is up there as one of my favourites. The framework of the room is metal giving it an industrial feel along with wooden doors and windows. There was a small bathroom area to the side of the stage with working sinks and light switches that were turned on and off, a water cooler on stage which the actors drank from throughout, and rain even poured down the windows looking very believable. The highlight though (and something I haven't quite got my head around) was the table in the centre of the room which the actors sat around. A little while into the play I was aware that the table was at a different angle to when the play begun. Later on, it had moved again. It was clear that the table was on a revolve but throughout the whole play I didn't physically see it move, I only noticed when it had. This not only kept the play interesting as you saw all actors from all angles but it was quite symbolic as the table had made one full rotation by the time a verdict was reached towards the end of the play.

The audience had people of a range of ages and the applause at the end was rapturous which really proved to me that this is a play that can captivate a huge variety of people. The show is staying at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton until Saturday (tickets here) and has a few more locations left before the end of the tour (tickets here) so if you are able to see it I cannot recommend it enough!

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