The 12 jurors are given two options; guilty with the death sentence or complete acquittal. The script of “12 Angry Men” is amazingly good, tackling a very serious issue with a keen humour that kept the audience laughing at regular intervals throughout.
Strong acting from IC Medics’ Drama brought some wonderfully convincing characters appeared on stage this evening. This play presented and played with humanity’s quirks and emotions, using a broad range of strong characters illustrating of the breadth of personalities within our society. Characters such as those played by Rachel Ramadan, Idris Harding and Seshi Manam, despite their stereotypical nature, I felt accurately depicted people I have met in real life whilst the equally convincing portrayal of less extreme personalities such as those provided by Thomas Sterling and Andrea Gosling provided a natural counterpoint.
12 Angry Men was originally written for 12 white men (deciding the verdict of a Hispanic man). Director, Shabnam Parkar brought this 1950s drama into 21st century London with a mixed gender and mixed race cast. Though the racial undertones of the play were still clearly evident, it sometimes seemed to me to transcend these issues to become a story about class. Whichever way it is viewed, the transition to modern setting worked very well.
It is therefore an indicator of how good and convincing this play was 99% of the time that on the couple of occasions it was let down, it was noticeable. The prejudiced rant of Rachel Timms’s character was set against unrealistic reactions from the other characters. Whilst I empathise with the desire to introduce movement into what has the potential to be a very static play, the very blatant displays of offence by the other characters in reaction to this rant looked contrived and fake. The occasional tendency to overplay lines for comic effect, which is again immensely tempting, also put a slight dampener on some moments.
From a technical point of view the watercooler and the florescent light were the highlights for me. The watercooler looked at home in its environment and gave the characters something to play with. The flurescent light gave the room a ceiling - something lacking in most theatre sets. The use of video projections for some scenes worked as well as might be expected, including theatrically interesting and aesthetically pleasing camera shots and didn’t overly disrupt the flow of the action. I think it probably was just about worth sacrificing the rawness of live action to avoid the nasty set/scene changes required for the change in location – just about.
This is a really good play and with its careful balance of humour, drama and serious undertones I suspect there would be few who would dislike it. There are some wonderful plot twists. Look out for the sudden and unexpected surprise of sexual attraction (presumably not in the original!) and a snappy brother in law joke.
IC Medics Drama present 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose in the Union Concert Hall from 19th-21st November at 7.30pm.