BALLARAT National Theatre's current production of Twelve Angry Men is guilty of being an outstanding theatrical experience, bringing the acting talents of thirteen of our best male actors to the stage in a gripping portrayal of the tensions of the jury room.
Brought together to deliberate on the guilt or innocence of a young man charged with stabbing his father, eleven of the jurors have no doubt that he did the deed. Only one hesitates, and argues for a discussion and review of the evidence.
The basic plot may sound less than exciting but as the discussion develops, so does the tension. Tempers flare, personal prejudices are revealed, arguments grow ever more heated and the audience is riveted by the unfolding drama.
There is no set other than the tables and chairs and no gimmicks, just outstanding acting from all involved. The jury members are referred to only by their numbers and not their names, yet their individuality is never in doubt.
Central to the drama is Juror Number 8 played with consummate control by Andrew Seeary. His feeling that there may be some "reasonable doubt" in the case prompts a range of reactions from reasoned to outraged.
Tim Gay and Brendan Bawden are impressively angry, and jury foreman Michael Zala has his work cut out to control the situation. The other jurors played by Kaine Hansen, Matt Noble, Lee Taylor, Tony McGuiness, Daniel West, Fred Fargher, John Daykin and Sam O’Brien gradually reveal their various prejudices and life experiences as they struggle with the difficult decision they must make.
Director Peter Tulloch has drawn on the wide range of acting talent in Ballarat to create a memorable and thought provoking production. I feared my memory of the film from long ago would lessen my sense of involvement, but despite knowing the outcome I was totally immersed in the unfolding drama.
My companion, who had not seen the film, was even more impressed and declared this production one of the best ever. We both recommend it unreservedly.
WHAT: Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose
WHO: Ballarat National Theatre Inc
WHERE: The Courthouse Theatre
WHEN: Saturday 28th September, Wednesday 2nd, Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th October at 8pm. Matinees Sunday 29th September and Saturday 5th October at 2pm
TICKETS: Majestix or at the door, $14-$20