A night of theatrical excellence

Twelve Angry Men

Malvern Theatres

*****

HENRY Fonda set the bar as the morally-conscious man who forces members of a jury to fully analyse a case in the renowned film version of this story.

But this play has more than just Fonda. It has a roll call of fine British and American talent whose chemistry together creates a night of pure theatre excellence. 

Firstly, there's Martin Shaw, taking a break from similarly righteous characters of Judge John Deed and Inspector George Gently, in the lead role as Juror 8. Calmly confident, he unflinchingly stands firm with his not guilty vote, despite being the only juror to believe the 16-year-old in the New York court dock may not have murdered his father.

He faces a medley of characters to argue against, from the openly racist workman to the disinterested salesman and a father full of pent up anger.

Creating this motley crew are distinguished actors, the likes of American film and TV star Jeff Fahey, recently seen in Under the Dome and Lost; Nick Moran, who shot to fame after Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; and former Royal Shakespeare Company thespian Miles Richardson.

The biggest impact on stage, however, is made by one of the stalwarts of stage and screen - Robert Vaughn. This Man from UNCLE, gent in BBC1 series Hustle and one of The Magnificent Seven commands attention with every movement, flinch and speech. 

Set purely in a 1950s jury room, the spirited script constantly keeps the momentum flowing with plenty of wit. Gradually developing each of the jurors' back stories while also adding more detail of the case, it is almost a murder mystery.

By the end of the play, you feel like you understand each of the twelve men's motivations and backgrounds. 

And it is this bond with the jury and the hope for some kind of justice, along with the quality of acting on stage by every one of the cast, what makes this production work so well.

There is only one verdict for Twelve Angry Men - it's undeniably guilty of grabbing your attention and never letting it go. To 02-11-13

Alison Brinkworth 

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