Thursday 14 December 2017


Bord Gais Energy Theatre > CHRIS WASSER

How easy is it to be fooled by a revolving, theatrical centre-piece? Well, when there are a dozen fired-up New Yorkers battling it out for their voices to be heard, the answer is very, very easy. Go on - try to spot whenever the jury's table moves. You won't. It's a particularly sneaky and surprisingly effective manoeuvre. Reginald Rose's masterpiece, Twelve Angry Men, is full of them.

Everyone remembers the 1957 black-and-white picture - the one with Henry Fonda. A jury of 12 must decide whether or not a 16-year-old boy killed his father. All of the evidence suggests the lad is going to fry in the chair. 11 of the jurors vote 'guilty' - but Juror 8 (here) isn't so sure. Juror 8 is an architect. Juror 8 asks more than what is presented to him. Juror 8 is practically laughed out of the room. That is, until reasonable doubt kicks in.

One by one, Conti convinces the others that maybe there are legitimate evidential holes to consider. It won't be easy for some to see past their prejudices, or - in the case of Juror 3 (an awesome Andrew Lancel) - his own father-and-son issues.

Conti's scholar-like turn as Juror 8 is something else indeed. It's a war of words - David Mamet would have been proud to call this one his own. And yet, it rarely resorts to name-calling, or petty put-downs.

Fisticuffs, maybe, but the angry men talk it out. There are 12 egos in the mix and it's a pleasure to watch them spark off of one another. The set is astoundingly realistic; the acting, about as natural and convincing as anything we've seen on a stage this year, and the script? It'll keep you guessing. Gripping stuff.

Ends Tonight. HHHHI

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