12 Angry Men
Play by Reginald Rose
Performed at the Scott Theatre, 7th March 2004
A Masterson/Assembly Theatre Production
Directed by Guy Masterson
Director Guy Masterson's adaptation of Reginald Rose's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, 12 Angry Men, is a surprisingly engaging and high-quality production considering the cast's inexperience; the issues it raises remain topical fifty years after it was written. The play explores the enduring themes of prejudice, stereotypes, people's convictions and preconceptions. It forces the audience to question their own views, their moral standing and how they would act in a similar situation.
Set on the hottest day of the year in New York in 1957, 12 Angry Men is an edgy drama concerning twelve jurors seeking a unanimous verdict over a 16-year-old boy on trial for murdering his father. To most it appears to be an open and shut case, "nobody had to think twice about it".
Eleven jurors immediately vote to send the youth to the electric chair, insisting it is a clear case of murder, but Juror 8 (Owen O'Neill) is not sure and simply wants to talk over the facts of the case and his uncertainties concerning the evidence. He questions the other jurors' decision, arguing that a human life should be worth some consideration; "we can't decide on somebody's life in five minutes!"
Discussions of the evidence reveal inconsistencies, inaccuracies and personal interpretations of the accused, the witnesses and the juror's prejudices. Juror 3 (Stephen Frost) has an estranged, violent relationship with his only son, and transposes his vicious anger to the accused youth. Juror 10 (Phil Nichol) condemns the accused because of his own paranoia; he is terrified the "scum" of the slums might one day take control. Each of the jurors is in turn offended or taken aback by the anger...