Twelve Angry Men, Belgrade Theatre until Feb 14
In Twelve Angry Men we are the thirteenth juror, known in the American legal system as the Alternate Juror, the one who sits through the trial but is not called.
We listen, spellbound, to the arguments about a young man from the bottom of the social pile accused of murdering his father.
We catch every nuance of meaning, examine every statement, consider every motive of every witness, as these twelve good men and true – all male, all white – do their duty.
Though we never see the accused, we come to feel for him. He has had a rough life. The whole world is against him, not least the majority of the jury, who must decide if he should live or die.
As the arguments rage we see the prejudices each brings to the matter, and we watch, our hearts in our mouths, as one by one the jurors reconsider their initial conviction that the boy must be guilty.
The show carries one heck of a cast. Tom Conti as juror number eight is magnificent as the voice of reason, turning the others away from judicial folly.
His antagonists, led by the fiery juror number three (Andrew Lancel), are a motley crew from all classes of society. There is so much testosterone in the jury room you could butter your bread with it.
Though it is of its era, 1950s America, the play is still relevant today.
Prejudice, unless stopped by reasonable doubt, will always have its way. This play argues that it doesn’t have to be that way.
By Nick Le Mesurier