14 March 2015

A confident and assured Twelve Angry Men at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

To be honest, I do not think that I would have considered either the play or the theatre were it not for the offer of cheap tickets through work. But there was enough to the reputation of the play and the temptation in trying a new theatre for the offer to sway that balance.

The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre was a nice walking distance from Guildford station so that meant getting there was fairly easy and I was able to spend a lot of time at home catching up with things before heading out to the theatre.

The play started at 8pm and I arrived in Guildford just after 6pm planning to eat first. Unfortunately everybody who had been shopping in Guildford that day had the same idea and all the restaurants were packed so I went on to the theatre in the hope that they had something. Luckily they did something snacky that I liked in the bar and I was there early enough to get a seat.

As the tickets were booked through work I had no choice in the matter and I was pleased to find myself fairly central about half-way back in the stalls. I was even more pleased when the couple in front of me did not show so I did not have a tall person's head to contend with. My view was excellent, as the photo below shows.

The plot of Twelve Angry Men was simple, jurors had retired to consider a case with the aim of getting a unanimous verdict but they started split 11 in favour of guilty and 1 against. The deliberations towards the final outcome were pertinent but the point of the play was the twelve characters and the way that they reacted to each other.

Twelve Angry Men was actually a very misleading title as only some of them were, or got, angry and there were a lot of other emotions on show. In particular, the Tom Conti character, he who started off by saying not guilty, was cool and calm throughout. Others were aggressive, timid, disinterested, phlegmatic, bigoted and other things besides.

The ending, the final verdict, was never really in doubt but the steps to get there were interesting enough while the conversations between the group were the core of the play.

A play about emotions needs good actors and this one had plenty. Each of the twelve jurors had a distinctive and believable personality. Tom Conti was in the staring role but all the other characters had their time in the limelight as we learned more about what they thought and why they though it, which was often based upon something that they had experienced. I was particularly pleased to see Robert Duncan on the stage as I had watched him for many years in Drop the Dead Donkey.

Twelve Angry Men never had enough in the plot to be stunning but it was certainly good enough and this was a confident and assured production which entertained with ease.

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