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Having seen the film many years ago, I did not appreciate the way a jury could be swayed by one person with different views, and this play brought it into sharp focus.

Another excellent production from HHTC, with each actor bringing many different facets to their characters, making it both believable and hard-hitting.

I loved the use of the floor as the main performance area, with the stage being used for the outside areas to the jury room.  Technically very complex, with the use of the screens to show an all round picture of the jury table, so that we did not miss any of the expressions or nuances of each performance.  Well done to Roseanna Bloxham and Stewart Fairthorne for lighting and sound, including management of the camera and screen projection, and also to David Simmonds and Karina Bygate for the video footage used.

The set on stage was well-designed and constructed, which added to the overall look and feel of the production.  The jury table, set in the centre of the floor gave the actors ample room to move around, and make the most of their characters, whilst keeping the action fairly contained and central.

The costumes were very good, as it is difficult to keep the feel of the piece and yet give the characters their own persona when just wearing suits or jacket and trousers.  

The foreman of the jury was played by Tim Blair, and whilst he created a very different character to the other jurors, I felt he was a little uncertain at times in his delivery, however he was a good foil to the more forceful jurors.

Juror No 2, perhaps the one who took a back seat most of the time, gave Phil Lovell the chance to show expression and sometimes bewilderment at the way things were panning out, a nicely observed interpretation.

Marlon Gill gave a strong and forceful portrayal of Juror No 3 – very angry and aggressive, and showing that his own personal relationship with his son coloured the way he looked at the accused.  Very powerful.

Shane McCarthy created the more analytical Juror No 4, and I thought he created a fine character, concentrating on the logic of his observations.  Quieter but making an impression.  

Juror No 5, a late addition to the cast, was played by Terry Casserley – again getting the slightly intimidated character to start with, then becoming more sure of himself and the fact that his views mattered as the drama played out.

David Simmonds as Juror No 6 gave a slightly whimsical edge to his portrayal, a very normal person caught up in the struggles of the bigger characters, which again gave another dimension to the picture that was being created.

Juror No 7 gave Geraint Whalley the chance to work on a serious character, rather than a musical portrayal, and I thought he did it very well.

Matthew Hopkins as Juror No 8, the one person who looked at the case from the point of view that maybe the evidence didn’t stack up, gave a very restrained but powerful performance, very reasoned in his arguments but passionate about trying to see the bigger picture. I was very impressed.  

Brian Doran gave Juror No 9 the gravitas of the elder statesman, which suited him very well, and added yet another dimension to the whole.

The rather unremarkable Juror No 10, who seemed as if he wanted to remain in the background, was played by Paul Passi with a good but not too marked German accent.  Some of his observations were very well-delivered from the standpoint of his slightly different upbringing, which was evident but not over-emphasised.

Juror No 11 gave David Lodge the chance to show his acting skills to the full as an angry man, full of himself, and prepared to try and sway the jury his way without worrying too much about whether the evidence was flawed or not.  

Ryan Ridge was the slightly younger Juror No 12, very sure of his marketing skills, and trying to make them fit into the situation – a very down to earth portrayal, and again a good foil to the other characters.

The Guard was played by Keith Appleby, a small part but he kept his interpretation in place for the whole play – nicely done.

Lee Marsh’s voice was used for the Judge – and that part of the production was well-managed too.

The finale of Act 1 was very tense and emotive – leaving us on tenterhooks about what was going to happen in Act 2.

A very powerful drama, well-acted and directed, which gave us a gripping, tension-filled and thought provoking evening – very well done to all concerned.

Hemel Hempstead Theatre Company

“12 Angry Men” review date: 30th July 2016

Boxmoor Playhouse

Director: Karina Bygate   


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