- Play By Reginald Rose
- Directed by Guy Masterson
- Assistant Director Geordie Brookman
- Designer: Katy Tuxford
- Costumes: Dagmar Morrell
- Company Manager: Gabby Bridges
- ASM: Carina Cargill
Cast (in Juror number order)
1) Rob Meldrum
2) George Kapiniaris
3) Shane Bourne
4) Peter Phelps
5) Nicholas Papademetriou
6) Peter Flett
7) Aaron Blabey
8) Marcus Graham
9) Henri Szeps
10) Richard Piper
11) Alex Menglet
12) Russell Fletcher
12 ANGRY MEN - synopsis
New York, 1957: A young delinquent awaits sentencing for the alleged "murder" of his aggressive father. Having listened to 3 days of testimony, eleven juors immediately vote "guilty", but one juror feels that there is a 'reasonable doubt' - to the frustration of his eleven colleagues - thus preventing the quick verdict. During the following heated deliberations, the hidden preconceptions and assumptions of all are revealed. In a work of brilliantly balanced tension, when faced with playing the hangman, each juror is forced to face himself...
Following the success of the Edinburgh production and its subsequent tour to the Perth, New Zealand and Adelaide International Festivals of 2003, Guy Masterson has once again teamed up with Arts Projects Australia and Adrian Bohm this time to present an all Australian production featuring a veritable who's who of OZ talent.
The show opened at Queensland Arts Centre (QPAC) in Brisbane on October 12 where it was received rapturously. Thence, it opened at Sydney Theatre Company's Wharf Theatre on Wednesday October 27 again to universal critical acclaim and became the fastest one day ticket seller on record at STC. After opening in Melbourne on November 16th, the show broke every box office record at the venerable Athanaeum Theatre during its three week run. It became the Australia's theatrical event of the year. (See
PRESS ANNOUNCEMENT 19/09/05
Twelve Angry Men OZ WIS 3 GREENROOM AWARDS in Melbourne and is nominated for "Best Play" in Sydney's HELPMANN AWARD in Australia
Guy Masterson's universally acclaimed production of the classic Twelve Angry Men has won no fewer than four major Australian Theatre awards. Melbourne's prestigious Greenroom Awards.
"MOST OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION"
"BEST DIRECTION: GUY MASTERSON"
and "MALE ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE: ALEX MENGLET"
Sydney's Helpmann Awards also nominated the production for "BEST PLAY" but sadly lost out to Hedda Gabla starring Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving who were also nominated in the acting categories.
These awards and nominations once again highlight the issue of Guy Masterson's supreme UK production not being granted permission to be seen in the West End where it would likely become one of the most successful revivals of the year.
PRESS ANNOUNCEMENT 19/11/04
Twelve Angry Men breaks box office records in Australia
and wins accolades for its cast
Guy Masterson's universally acclaimed production of the classic Twelve Angry Men continues to break box office records. This week in Melbourne where it opened on Tuesday night, The Athenaeum Theatre sold 1,192 tickets worth $62,000 in one day - this is almost $10,000 more than the Athenaeum's previous best day's sales records!
Twelve Angry Men also set the best single day's ticket sales for a show at the Sydney Theatre during its previous Sydney season.
Twelve Angry Men is a beautifully written and taut drama, and this production is acted superbly by a stellar cast of Australian acting talent including Marcus Graham, Shane Bourne, Aaron Blabey, Russell Fletcher, Peter Flett, George Kapiniaris, Rob Meldrum, Alex Menglet, Nicholas Papademetriou, Peter Phelps, Richard Piper and Henri Szeps.
The Age wrote, 'This is everything theatre should be, leaving its audience on a high of intellectual satisfaction and emotional excitement', while The Herald Sun wrote, 'Life affirming theatre. It would be criminal to miss it.'
Twelve Angry Men is at The Athenaeum until 4 December. Tickets are selling fast for this unmissable production.
A powerful and thought provoking piece of theatre
"It is hard to believe that Twelve Angry Men is fifty years old in 2004. On the one hand it is a living testament to the enduring power of good writing and good theatre, and on the other hand it represents a sad indictment of the fact that in many ways we have learned so very little in terms of tolerance and understanding.
Reginald Rose's original was broadcast as a television play in 1954 and was subsequently expanded into a full-length feature film in 1956. It remains one of the classics of the past fifty years.
This production, under the direction of Guy Masterson and featuring twelve of Australia's best acting talents including Marcus Graham, Peter Phelps, Richard Piper and Henri Szeps, to name but a few, is a powerful and compelling re-working of the original that sees the text reduced to around an hour and a half of serious drama as twelve jurors (all men) decide the guilt or innocence of a sixteen year old boy accused of murdering his father.
This is a powerful and thought provoking piece of theatre. Marcus Graham, as the Juror who initially stands alone against the other eleven over the question of guilt or innocence delivers a superb performance. See this play if you possibly can. Twelve Angry Men is something well worth seeing." (Nigel Munro-Wallis - 612 ABC Brisbane, 14/10/04)
A beautifully-balanced demonstration of ensemble acting at its best
"It's 4.55pm on a hot summer's evening in New York. The year is 1957 and we're 'embedded' in an un-airconditioned room with a jury of twelve men. They're a mixed dozen drawn from all parts of society and they're here to decide whether a young delinquent, charged with the murder of his father, is to be sent to the electric chair or allowed to walk free. We're here courtesy of Reginald Rose and his play, Twelve Angry Men, based on his own experience as a juror in 1954, a time when only men could be jurors and a unanimous verdict, either way, had to be reached to avoid a re-trial. The play breaks the sanctity of the jury room and allows us in to observe and listen as twelve men, with varying degrees of anger-management skills, consider their verdict.
By 5.00pm, having heard the details of the evidence against the young man, it looks like we'll all be home by 6.00pm as everything points to the boy's guilt. However, Juror 8, played by Marcus Graham, is not so sure. He's an architect with an eye for detail, and feels a little uneasy about the quality of representation the boy has been given by his court-appointed lawyer. He begins to question the evidence, much to the annoyance of his fellow jurors. As the arguments bat back and forth across the table, tempers flare and the debate becomes heated. The sparks flying inside the jury room are mirrored in a lively electrical storm gathering momentum outside which finally culminates in a downpour. The emotional storm building inside the jury room finds its release in a highly-charged outburst from Juror 3, played by Shane Bourne. It's a shattering performance which leaves all the jurors and the audience looking on in stunned and uncomfortable silence, but unanimous in their verdict.
A production which puts Henri Szeps, Peter Phelps, Marcus Graham and Shane Bourne on the same stage for 90 minutes has guaranteed crowd appeal, and these accomplished performers do not disappoint. Neither do their less-recognizable but equally accomplished fellow jurors Rob Meldrum, George Kapiniaris, Nicholas Papademetriou, Peter Flett, Aaron Blabey, Richard Piper, Alex Menglet, and Russell Fletcher. We're drawn into the characters they create for us: repelled by the bigotry and narrow-mindedness of the more strident of them, reassured by those prepared to listen and consider other alternatives, and sympathetic to all because we have come to understand them.
Director Guy Masterson has opted for a pared-down set - table, chairs and water fountain. The other fittings and fixtures used by the characters are drawn on the floor, as on an architect's plan. This minimal set serves to focus our attention on the text which is carefully constructed to reveal the preconceptions, prejudices and personality traits which colour each man's reading of the 'facts'. In the process, what seemed so certain, even reasonable, at 5.00pm seems dangerously dogmatic by 6.00pm. In the end, the eyes have it, but I'll say no more lest I spoil the surprise.
Twelve Angry Men is a beautifully-balanced demonstration of ensemble acting at its best Beyond any reasonable doubt a gripping theatre experience!" (Rosemary Duffy - State of the Arts (Brisbane), 20/10/04)
"Courtroom classic from the '50s a parable for our times"
"It's a stifling New York evening in 1957 and a delinquent teenager's life hangs in the balance. On trial for the murder of his brutal father, the unseen accused is at the mercy of 12 good men and true who, at the start of Reginald Rose's American classic, file into the jury room intent on reaching a quick verdict. He's clearly guilty and there's a baseball game about to start, so the decision seems a formality, until the moral voice of Juror No.8 raises the vexed question of "reasonable doubt".
Over the next 90 minutes of tightly written, breathtaking drama, the 11 votes for a verdict of guilty are whittled down in the theatrical equivalent of The Twelve Days of Christmas, as "truth" is continually revealed to be at the mercy of personal prejudice and pig-ignorant assumptions.
Although written in the 1950s, 12 Angry Men's depiction of self-interest overriding moral judgment resonates with terrifying power within contemporary Australian culture. Guy Masterson's production, first seen at the 2003 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and earlier this year at the Adelaide and Perth festivals, has been adapted to an all-Australian ensemble cast, with Marcus Graham creating a compelling presence as the troubled, conscience-driven dissenter. Beside him, Henri Szeps, as the older Juror No.9, is willing to give deliberations an hour, while across the table Peter Phelps as a logical thinker, and Nicholas Papademetriou as a delinquent-made-good, demonstrate the philosophical contingency and moral complexity behind so-called commonsense.
One of the features of Masterson's approach was to cast comedians in the gripping, emotion-charged drama: Shane Bourne as a hang-the-bastard hardhead; Richard Piper as the violent redneck Juror No.10; and Alex Menglet in a deeply moving portrayal of the immigrant Juror No.11, whose latent capacity for moral decency is emblematic of the theme of the play.
Designer Katy Tuxford divides the stage in two, with the public jury room being devised with straight realism, while the washroom is more abstract, to represent those vague and indistinct areas where personal conscience and private thought can emerge without social pressure.
No better production has been seen this year: the play is so perfectly structured and so magnificently performed that anything else struggles to compete." (Martin Buzacott - The Australian (Brisbane), 25/10/04)
An outstanding play and production; its intelligence, wit and resonating power makes for taut, enthralling drama.
"Prejudice obscures the truth," says Juror 8, the voice of curiosity, reason, doubt and the odd man out in Reginald Rose's hothouse drama.
In its determination of one man's fate, the play plunges the audience into a jury room on a hot, stormy night in New York in 1957. A delinquent youth faces the death sentence for the stabbing murder of his violent father - the accused is an unseen figure but his depressing upbringing and difficult character hang in the air.
When the jurors file in and sit at a long table they appear similar in their shirts, jackets and ties: a mass of conformity and dutiful clout. With the exception of Marcus Graham's Juror 8, they all figure the teenager is guilty and want their own freedom back. After all, there's a baseball game later that evening and an oppressive bunker is no place to be.
Written in the 1950s, the cleverly structured, character-rich ensemble piece is deceptively simple as it sets in motion arguments and counter-arguments about the accused's background and motive. Tempers flare and a host of assumptions and prejudices surface as the men are asked to test the "beyond reasonable doubt" safeguard and to engage with the moral issue at core.
The enduring strength of 12 Angry Men, apart from its superb dialogue, lies in its deftly drawn, identifiably flawed characters and its exploration of power, influence and truth. The initial vote of 11-1 in favour of a guilty verdict gradually changes in the light of new insights and arguments befitting a trial itself. There are barbs and slights, including those that threaten to spill into fights. In many respects, the jurors could easily pass for politicians as they stake their patch, make a pitch and look to be trusted.The cast is uniformly excellent. Graham is thoughtful and commanding as the decent juror whose constant questions and doubts offer clarity and persuasion. Henri Szeps as Juror 9 is wonderful as the sage, agreeable man willing to consider the arguments while Alex Menglet, as the immigrant watchmaker, Juror 11, is brilliantly affecting. His polite control and open-minded manner are sorely tested and turn to indignant rage when confronted with the objectionable indifference of Aaron Blabey's distracted Juror 7.
The most pragmatic, deeply prejudiced characters are Shane Bourne's righteous and vengeful Juror 3 and Richard Piper's loud, bigoted Juror 10 - a very angry man who detests the slum social background of the accused if only because it is not that different to his own. He, of course, is at pains to suggest otherwise. Bourne and Piper add considerably to the play's volatility and deliver gutsy, assured performances to heighten the conflict and deepen the quest.
Director Guy Masterson's production - simply and effectively designed by Katy Tuxford - never misses a muscular beat as it brings to its rippling surface the beliefs and fears of a circle of men forced to examine their "logic" and their own feelings of worth.
Rob Meldrum as the foreman, George Kapiniaris as the quiet accountant Juror 2, and Peter Phelps as the somewhat smug stockbroker Juror 4, contribute sharp performances as they attempt to cling to cool-headedness amid the heat and passion of the night.
This is an outstanding play and production; its intelligence, wit and resonating power makes for taut, enthralling drama." (Bryce Hallett - Sydney Morning Herald, 24/10/04)
Tapped into success... The verdict is brilliant!
"Modern drama classics don't get any better than Guy Masterson's Australian restaging of his Edinburgh Festival hit, 12 Angry Men.
Written by Reginald Rose in 1954 as a TV play (for which it won three Emmys), it was taken up by Henry Fonda and turned into the legendary film (which received three Oscar nominations but didn't perform so well at the box office) before being finally re-fashioned for the stage by playwright Rose.
It's a justly famous piece of writing that follows a jury through two hours of deliberation, during which an initial guilty verdict is overturned because of one man's doubt and courage.
Absorbing, gripping and rivetingly performed by a cast of Australia's finest." (Diana Simmonds - The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney), 31/10/04)
Cliffhanger in the jury room
"New York City, 1957: it's a hot and stormy late afternoon, but not, perhaps, as hot and stormy as the locked room in which a jury is debating the fate of a 16-year-old from the wrong side of the tracks who is accused of stabbing his father to death.
A guilty verdict, as the judge has instructed the jurors all men carries a mandatory death sentence.
The circumstantial evidence is formidable, the defendant's alibi is shaky and, persuasively, there's eyewitness testimony - an open-and-shut case.
A vote is called for. Eleven jurors say guilty, one isn't convinced. Surely, the lone doubter argues, the kid's life is worth a couple of hours of their time to look at the evidence again.
If the set-up sounds familiar, you probably remember the 1957 movie directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Henry Fonda. It's one of the great artistic works of American liberalism, a cliffhanger crossed with a lesson in civics and a petition for all of us to check our prejudices.
The gradual revealing of information both the disputed facts of the case and the inner workings of the jurors is perfectly calibrated by author Reginald Rose; although, if you're as big a fan of the movie as I am, familiarity will dilute several marvellous twists.
Director Guy Masterson has marshalled a top-notch ensemble that includes Marcus Graham in Fonda's reason-and-empathy role. Shane Bourne is cast against type as the sadistic blowhard the part Lee Cobb took in the movie and does a terrific job.
Real edge-of-the-seat stuff and proof that popular entertainment need not be dead from the neck up. (Colin Rose - The Sunday Herald (Sydney), 31/10/04)
Neat, Simple & Timeless...
"12 Angry Men is one of those classic single-set plays with a gripping premise, a snazzy title and a plot as tight as a mermaid's brassiere.
Forgive the archaic gag: perhaps the play's humour is infectious. Reginald Rose's drama (written for television in 1954) is riddled with such 'wisecracks', although the work's premise has granted it an understandably more serious reputation.
The dozen grumps of the title are jurors in 1950s New York, gathered to determine the fate of a young black man on trial for murder. They're all testy for different reasons, but only one is tense because he thinks the accused is innocent.
The aforementioned humour wasn't lost on director Guy Masterson, who cast British comics in a 2003 production staged at the Edinburgh Festival. It proved a surprising hit with critics and audiences, including two Australian producers who convinced Masterson to restage it in Australia.
The result is engrossing, even if a little exhausting.
There are some worthy performances, including Marcus Graham as the Juror 8 (the one with a conscience) and Peter Phelps as Juror 4. Comic Shane Bourne as Juror 3 at first is simply irritating, with an 'anger' pitched at a consistently bland shout. His eventual breakdown, however, is a complete shock and unexpectedly moving.
Masterson has masterfully choreographed the static action for maximum theatricality. A careful observer will eventually note the judicious use of the water cooler by the actors - a device that keeps the menagerie in flux and away from the deadening table.
The 'drawn' set also beautifully communicates one simple and understated dramatic idea. When Juror 8 attempts to demonstrate a flaw in the evidence using a floorplan of the accused's building, it becomes clear we are watching a crime scene, in which the jurors' prejudices could send an innocent to the electric chair. Neat, simple, timeless stuff." (Tim Benzie - Sydney Star Observer, 04/11/04)
Everything Theatre Should Be...
"Guy Masterson's cast for this serious acting classic for the 2003 Edinburgh Fringe Festival featured well-known comedians who made the production an amazing success. His Australian cast is performing with equal brilliance for an audience who cheered at the end of a powerful production.
The bold move of casting across the grain has comedian Shane Bourne in the role of an enraged would-be executioner; the stylish and sexy Marcus Graham as the nerdish moral arbiter; and the amiable Richard Piper as a raving, racist bigot.
Their riveting performances are matched by the nine other jurors, actors who have been drawn from Australia's finest: Rob Meldrum, George Kapiniaris, Peter Phelps, Nicholas Papademetriou, Aaron Blabey, Peter Flett, Henri Szeps, Alex Menglet and Russell Fletcher.
The play, written for television 50 years ago - and made into a film by Sidney Lumet, with a cast that included Henry Fonda - is a superb piece of writing. It sets up multiple layers of significance as an assortment of US male citizens find they must battle their own demons in the process of enacting the system of justice that makes them proud to be American
The 12 men hold the life of a 16-year-old, accused of murdering his father, in their hands. Only obliquely do we surmise he is black, so that the issue of race and racism simmers beneath the surface where class, educational level, occupation and prejudice all emerge as factors in the individual judgements being made about guilt or innocence.
At the beginning only juror number eight (Marcus Graham) stems the rush to pronounce the boy guilty, and hence condemn him to the mandatory sentence of death. Gradually, through dramatic encounters that reveal the character of each individual, the finer values of respect for human life, fairness, tolerance, compassion, rationality and justice displace ignorance, anger, prejudice, anti-intellectualism and indifference.
The dramatic tension rises, reaching a series of climaxes, one of which is the appalled silence, the frozen postures, that mark the group's horrified condemnation of juror 10's (Richard Piper) violent diatribe of racist hatred.
This is everything theatre should be, leaving its audience on a high of intellectual satisfaction and emotional excitement." (Helen Thompson - The Age (Melbourne), 18/11/04)
JUSTICE and prejudice are thorny issues for contemporary Australia
12 Angry Men, though written in the 1950s in the United States, taps into an emotional vein even 40 years after its creation.
Guy Masterson expertly directs Rose's early version of the play, staged in London in 1964. The script is based on the 1957 film version starring Henry Fonda. Masterson cast 12 excellent actors to play the jury, including Marcus Graham in the Fonda role.
The production transforms the Athenaeum stage into a hot and stuffy New York jury room in 1957. The men sit on a jury to decide the fate of a 16-year-old black boy accused of the knifing murder of his violent father. When a single juror votes Not Guilty, frustration and tempers flare.
The script is intelligent, politically sophisticated and socially challenging, particularly for the 1950s. Rose's characters are impeccably observed, each slowly revealing his social values and inner secrets. Putting 12 opinionated men of diverse class, education and background into a locked room together provokes a gladiatorial atmosphere.
Rose contrives a cunning narrative. Juror No.8 (Graham) suggests that he cannot, in good conscience, send a boy to the electric chair without talking about it first. By tiny increments, he unfolds his concerns about the weapon, the time of the murder, the reliability of witness statements and the ineffective defence attorney. Almost imperceptibly, the picture of reasonable doubt is drawn.
Graham is riveting as the mild but persistent architect. His vocal and physical presence is, as always, compelling. As his opposing voice, the stitched-up stockbroker, Peter Phelps is delightfully cool and rational. Henry Szeps, as the older juror, is a still presence. Alex Menglet, as the European watchmaker, is commanding, Aaron Blabey is hilarious as the voluble salesman and Richard Piper convincing as frighteningly racist juror No.10. Rob Meldrum, George Kapiniaris, Peter Flett, Nicholas Papademetriou, Shane Bourne and Russell Fletcher comprise the rest of a fine cast.
As Graham's character says, "Prejudice obscures the truth''. 12 Angry Men compels us to reconsider our own prejudices. This is life affirming theatre. It would be criminal to miss it!" (Kate Herbert - Herald Sun (Melbourne), 19/11/04)
From the punters:
"Thank you for a fabulous show! That sounds a trifle glib... The show was nothing short of magnificent... We had a great view of the entire action and what action there was. All the performances were outstanding. For me, in particular, Richard Piper, Henri Szeps and a very mesmerising outburst from Alex Menglet. I do not know any of these men's work, but I was very impressed. George Kapiniaris was Danny De Vito! I laughed a lot at Aaron Blabey's character - someone straight out of the Grease era hair and mentality! I know Rob Meldrum vaguely he was superb as were they all. I know Shane Bourne only via TV's MDA but years ago I toured and shared a flat with his sister. (bit of useless info). My husband and I both agreed that Mr Graham turned in the balanced arbiter extremely well and rather brilliantly. I don't know him or his work that well but I am told he's got quite a reputation! But Peter Phelps was the evening's surprise as he is best known as a well loved cop here with blonde hair... He was utterly terrific. The directing was really wondrous. All credit to Mr Masterson. More congrats are in order after reading of it's latest awards in the programme. Good on you. It deserves it all. I read a review in the Age newspaper this morning and they gave it a big thumbs up. Being there I can vouch for the fact that the audience could not stop clapping and were on their feet. It was a very powerful piece of theatre which we and many others enjoyed. Thank you for a very outstanding piece of work and one that dear Melbourne needs so very much." (Heather & Andrea Vocino - Melbourne, 19/11/04)