Theatre Tours International Ltd Presents
Play By Reginald Rose
Original Cast: Bill Bailey, David Calvitto, Ian Coppinger, Russell Hunter, Stephen Frost, Steve Furst, Jeff Green, Dave Johns, Owen O'Neill, Phil Nichol, Gavin Robertson & Andy Smart
OZ/NZ Tour Cast included: Kevin Eldon, Cliff Ellen and Guy Masterson
New York, 1957: A young delinquent awaits sentencing for the alleged "murder" of his aggressive father. Having listened to 3 days of testimony, eleven jurors 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...
Presenting Rose's beautifully crafted, award winning masterpiece and Henry Fonda's Oscar nominated film in Edinburgh was the simultaneous brainchild of Owen O'Neill & Guy Masterson (both claiming the idea as their own!) Masterson phoned O'Neill one rainy morning in 2001 with the crazy idea of mounting the big-cast show at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival and asking if O'Neill would like to take the part of his hero; Henry Fonda. O'Neill, tucked up on the couch with a streaming cold was, as Masterson's call came in, watching that film on the television! The serendipity of the moment was not lost on them. It had to be done!
Neither O'Neill or Masterson can exactly recall who came up with the even more crazy idea of populating the cast with famous comedians, but the seed had been sewn and was growing rapidly.
During the next two Edinburgh Festivals, Masterson and O'Neill casually broached the idea to all their comedian friends and it seemed that everybody wanted to do it... but ONLY if the play was going to be done seriously. This was NOT to be a gimmick. This was to be a no-nonsense production...
After a year of on-off negotiations with the people who controlled the rights to Reginald Rose's play, the eventual cast list read like a who's who of comedy names including Perrier Award Nominees Bill Bailey, Jeff Green & Phil Nichol as well as world class improvisers Stephen Frost, Andy Smart, Ian Coppinger and Dave Johns. Steve Furst (aka Lenny Beige) took the role of foreman while comedy actors Gavin Robertson - creator of the World renowned cult theatre hit, Thunderbirds F.A.B., The Stage Best Actor Award Winner 2002 for Horse Country David Calvitto. Scotland's veteran television star Russell Hunter joined O'Neill and the comics in the jury room in what was sadly to be his final stage appearance of a 60 year career.
The show opened in August 2003 to standing ovations and soon became the fastest selling hot-ticket on the Fringe. It went down in history as the highest grossing drama the Edinburgh Fringe had ever had!
In February 2004, the show was invited to participate at the International Festival of Perth, Wellington and Adelaide and were presented in association with the eminent Australian company ARTS PROJECTS AUSTRALIA to great acclaim.
Following the sell-out success of this mini-tour, Arts Projects Australia, Adrian Bohm and Guy Masterson mounted an all Australian cast production which toured to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne between October and December 2004. This show broke box office records in Sydney and Melbourne and became the Australian theatrical event of the year.
Click HERE for details.
It is hoped that we can present the original cast in the West End in 2005.
(the saga of mounting the show for the first time!)
To begin at the beginning ... It is Spring, 2001 and Mary Shields, Queen Bee of the Assembly Rooms, mentions to me that she's always wanted to produce 12 Angry Men. I reply: "I've always wanted to direct it and I know someone who'd love to play the Henry Fonda role ... Your friend and mine, comedian Owen O'Neill." I call O'Neill to sound him out on the idea; a sniffling fluey voice answers ... "OOOOON!" I shout (my traditional greeting for him). "Wanna play Fonda in 12 Angry Men... ?" Silence ... "You're not going to (profanity) believe this. The (profanity) fillum (Irish for movie) is on the (profanity) telly right now! Fonda's doing his limping bit!" Silence... O'Neill and I continue to haggle as to which of us came up with the smart idea of getting comedians to play the 12 very serious roles, but I defer to my own better judgment. I definitely remember saying: "Let's stick your friends in it!" He replies: "They're not my friends!" I concede this point easily. But the idea is born.
That Edinburgh Festival, O'Neill and I bend the ear of anyone who had ever made anyone laugh. The response is predictable. There are only 12 roles and we could cast it four times over. We briefly consider having a new cast every week ... but again, I defer to my own better judgment.
Another year passes and, at Edinburgh 2002, both O'Neill and I aren't in any position to further the idea. Producing ten shows of my own ties me down, and O'Neill is doing a new, rather sentimental one, about his son the footballer. So, no chance ... But, once the Festival gets going, I am suddenly being accosted by all his mates in the Assembly Club Bar about this fictional production called 48 Angry Comedians that isn't happening. I am swiftly becoming the butt of their humour. I'm determined to prove them wrong.
Cut to December 2002; we've asked 12 comics to get up for a morning read-through of the play at the Riverside Studios, even though I've already been refused the rights to present it. I don't have the heart to tell this to O'Neill ... I, at least, want to see if it's going to be a project worth fighting for The reading is brilliant. It is clear we have to do everything we can to make it happen. And so, when I eventually break the bad news, I suddenly get a taste of why they put the Ire into Ireland. Cut to March 2003. We've now been refused the rights to present 12 Angry Men at least five times. They're sick of us and we're really sick of them. I've all but given up hope ... As far as I am concerned it's off. But no-one has accounted for O'Neill the Rottweiler. While I'm on tour in New Zealand, he, who has apparently tried everything but bribery in my absence, and probably as a reward for his unstinting persistence, wins begrudging permission for us to do it - IN EDINBURGH ONLY - for 23 performances. We're on.
Cut to May 2003, and the big challenge now is who will be in it. We have to commit a final cast to paper once and for all to be included in the Edinburgh Fringe Bible, but we've lost Rich Hall and Omid Djallili to big film projects and Greg Proops' radio show clashes with our allocated time slot at Assembly so he can't do it. But we've got Jeff Green, Dave Johns and Andy Smart to join us in their place. It's going to happen.
Unable quite to get my head around things, I inform David Calvitto (Juror No 7, and one of the three non-comedians in the cast) that he is to be my assistant director and it's now his job to create a four-week rehearsal schedule taking into account all the jurors' conflicting comedic commitments. It soon becomes apparent that we will have fewer than seven out of 20 rehearsal days with the full cast in the same room at the same time in a play in which all 12 characters are on stage all the time. Not only that, but four of those days will have to be cancelled outright due to complete lack of attendance. It won't be easy.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the fabulous Katy Tuxford and Dagmar Morrell are coming up with fantastic concepts to provide a set and costumes on our shoestring budget. First day of rehearsal and we're missing Green, Calvitto, Johns, Bill Bailey, Russell Hunter, Stephen Frost and Phil Nichol. And this is to set the trend for the next two weeks as each juror variously (and sometimes mysteriously) de and re-materialises from day to day. Ian Coppinger, Steve Furst and Smart are my constants and so they get to fill in for Nichol, Bailey and Frost respectively so that we can continue with some semblance of progress. But it's clear we will only really start to work once everybody is in the same room - in two weeks... time.
And, of course, rehearsals in a room full of comedians are rather cordial affairs. As the call time is 10:30 am at the Bull Theatre in High Barnet at the top of the Northern Line, the boys are finding it very difficult to get here on time consistently and, once they do, they just have to get a sandwich and then make a cup of tea and then talk about their gigs of the night before or simply make each other laugh ... all terrific preparation for this most serious of plays! And I am not infallible. I cannot just sit there, like a strict headmaster, and frown at the goings-on, especially when it's so funny. But time is running away from us and I have to take control.
Remembering lines is our biggest stumbling block. The play is not moving because people simply can't remember their words, and even when they do, they're rarely in the right order, so cues are being missed.
In the middle of the second week of rehearsals, Smart goes off for three days to run with the bulls in Pamplona. I beg him to stay at the front of the pack as the publicity has already gone to print. Bailey, who plays the most logical stoic of the 12, is having problems with his big speech laying out the facts of the case. Points one to five are coming out back to front and upside down. By the end of the speech he's so frazzled his hair is horizontal. The cast are equally frazzled trying to follow him. After a pause, Frost dutifully delivers his line, "Now you listen to this man. He knows what he's taking about!" Apparently, I laugh before everyone else. Hunter remarks later, that in over 50 years in the profession he's never seen the director "go" before the rest of the cast.
Ironically, Nichol, who joins us two weeks into the rehearsal process, is almost letter perfect on his lines. And when I take a moment to praise his diligence and make an example of him in front of the boys (most of whom are still nowhere near "off book") I am soundly rounded upon, again by Frost; "Sure he knows his lines. He's had two weeks to learn them while we're stuck in here rehearsing all day."
From 14 July onwards, I decide I am going to become the "director from hell", driving the process forward by hook or by crook. I am using cowboy tactics to round them up and sit them down, screaming at them to shut up or ship out, and threatening to send them to the corner if they misbehave. I almost have to separate Green and Johns because of the mumbling and giggling that takes place just off to my right. No wonder teachers are striking for fairer pay and conditions. But the play is taking shape.
By now, breaks are few and far between. At the slightest hint of an opportunity, Smart (who is now taking snuff to offset his desperate craving for sugar and nicotine) darts out to suck down as many cigarettes as humanly possible in as short a time as possible, aided and abetted by Hunter who is alternating his filterless fags with acrid cigars. Coppinger, struggling to keep up, decides he needs his lungs, even though he has the fewest lines in the play.
Gavin Robertson's imaginative (and irrelevant) doodling as Juror 12 is becoming an art form, but is endangering the sobriety of the north end of the table. Which, by the way, is vast - so vast that it prompts Furst to comment: "It's like the Great White Shark in Jaws." Johns pipes in: "We're going to need a bigger courthouse."
As the cast congregate on the Bull's fire escape for our first photo shoot, high up on a rickety gantry and swaying under their heavyweight talent, Green worries whether, if it collapses, British comedy would be set back about ten years. Nichol retorts: "Or advanced by three.
"The next day Calvitto, while driving my wife's car for me to the garage, manages to sideswipe a parked lorry, neatly clipping off the wing mirror - which actually survives the collision only to be crushed under the back wheel at the last moment. Green sympathises: "I've seen the same thing happen to a bag of chips." Later, when Johns refers to the nose depressions made by eyeglasses (a very important point in the play) as "Pixie Baths" we all need to take a 20-minute time-out before decorum is restored.
Finally, once it is decided that Bailey actually won't cut off his trademark hair, and instead will be fitted with a wig, O'Neill requests 40 minutes of ridicule to get used to the idea. In the event the wig is so astonishing we have nothing to laugh about.
Cut to 29 July. The penultimate rehearsal is just finishing in the living room of our flat in Dublin Street. I am witnessing the delivery of the play in fine fettle. The boys know their lines. They're coming out in the right order and - do you know what? - it's pretty damned good. I'm proud of it. After 26 months, I've finally got 12 distinct, powerful performances delivering a great play. I can't wait for it to open...
Steve Furst - Juror 1: Furst rose to fame as his alter ego Lenny Beige, with a Fringe show and various television appearances to his name. He hosted Lenny Beige's Variety Pack on BBC Choice in 1999.
Ian Coppinger - Juror 2: A regular on the world comedy circuit, Coppinger is no stranger to festivals, both in the UK and Australia, and has toured Europe and the Middle East. He has appeared with Chicago's Second City, Whose Line Is It Anyway? and the Comedy Store Players.
Stephen Frost - Juror 3: Frost is synonymous with British alternative comedy, boasting appearances in The Young Ones, Blackadder and Mr. Bean. He's a guest with the Comedy Store Players.
Bill Bailey - Juror 4: Perhaps most famous for his numerous television credits, including Black Books and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Bailey is equally acclaimed as a stand-up.
Jeff Green - Juror 5: Perrier Award nominee Green is a comedy panel quiz show favourite, with credits including Have I Got News For You, Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Jo Brand's Hot Potatoes.
Dave Johns - Juror 6: A regular at the Comedy Store in London, Johns has played to audiences from Edinburgh to Montreal. He has toured with Johnny Vegas and featured on Mark Lamarr and Harry Hill's TV shows.
David Calvitto - Juror 7: One of three non-comedians in Guy Masterson's line-up, Calvitto is an actor, producer and sometime director and writer from New York City. He starred in last year's Fringe smash Horse Country.
Owen O'Neill - Juror 8: O'Neill garnered a Perrier nomination in 1998 and the Edinburgh Critics award for best comedy in 1999. An accomplished writer, O'Neill's sitcom The Fitz screened on BBC2 in 1999.
Russell Hunter - Juror 9: RSC actor and Festival veteran Hunter participated in the very first Fringe festival in 1947 and has won eight Fringe First awards. Possibly best remembered for his role as Lonely in the TV series Callan.
Phil Nichol - Juror 11: Born in Scotland and raised in Canada, Nichol's 14 years of stand-up comedy experience include appearances on the BBC's The Stand Up Show, Five's Comedy Store and shows in the US and Canada.
Andy Smart - Juror 11: An experienced street performer, Smart worked as one half of The Vicious Boys. With their own LWT show Wake Up London and guest spots on Saturday morning children's show Get Fresh.
Gavin Robertson - Juror 12: Robertson' theatre hit Thunderbirds F.A.B. has had six West End seasons and numerous tours nationally and internationally.
PERTH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL - February 16 - 21, His Majesty's Theatre, Perth
NEW ZEALAND INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL - February 27, March 2 - New Zealand Opera House, Wellington
ADELAIDE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL - March 5 - 14, Scott Auditorium, Adelaide
ARTS PROJECTS AUSTRALIA -and ADRIAN BOHM PRESENTS Australasian Promotor
"TENSION BUILDS AS 12 ABLE MEN GENERATE OWN ELECTRICAL STORM"
The verdict of the audience was unanimous approval... (12 Angry Men) translates well to the stage allowing more humour than remembered in the movie. The tension created on stage ratchets up as all 12 actors slip neatly and with absolute clarity and assurance in their roles of jurors who have to sweat it out in a cramped New York jury room. Guy Masterson's production lets the actors get on with the job of telling the story with out distractions and, mercifully, without an interval so the tension builds relentlessly. The lighting and sound effects for a thunderstorm are simple, highly effective and the only visual and aural extras. But it is the details that the actors bring to their roles that make it so memorable. An entertaining evening in the theatre"
(Laurie Atkinson - The Dominion Post, Wellington, NZ, February 28th 2004)
"MUST SEE VERDICT ON JURY DRAMA"
Never have the internal dynamics of the courtroom been so provocatively exposed as in 12 Angry Men and this production does the play justice. It's strong ensemble cast is led by the powerful performance of Stephen Frost as Juror 3 - a towering bully of a man who's own unhappy relationship with his son prevents him from thinking clearly about the young man charged with the crime.
His bigotry is exceeded, however, by the naked class prejudice of Phil Nichol's Juror 10, whose outburst of hatred is so chilling it alienates the rest of the jury room - one of the play's many intense moments.
And so, gentlemen, to the verdict on this production: Guilty, m'lud, of being truly dramatic and entertaining. Sentence: Compulsory Attendance!
(Ron Banks - The West Australian - February 18th, 2004) Click here for full review
"ANOTHER MASTERSON MASTERSTROKE! A scintillating work of ensemble theatre that taps and emotional venue as resolutely as it speaks to our times. The 12 performers take only a few moments to transform Assembly's large music Hall into the claustrophobic atmosphere of the jury room. It is a credit to Masterson and his cast that this production sustains and heightens the tension from first to last. O'Neill is outstanding as Juror 8. One almost expects the entire audience to shout "not guilty!" as we were a jury of hundreds!"
(Mark Brown - The Scotsman August 4, 2003)
"BOX OFFICE GOLD DUST! And the punters money is pretty well spent in this case. Guy Masterson's stand up cast apply themselves with impressive intensity. You're ensnared immediately. Bill Bailey plays brilliantly against type. this is no crime against theatre. Masterson's stand-ups have done Twelve Angry Men justice!"
(Brain Logan The Guardian August 4, 2003)
"Magic can happen at the Fringe and judging by ticket sales and standing ovations, Guy Masterson's brainchild is going down nicely. Perhaps it's because the nub of Rose's 50 year old courtroom drama - reasonable doubt - has lately become a valid political viewpoint rather than a fusty legal caveat. Masterson directs with aplomb. Canadian Phil Nichol as the is a revelation; his vitriolic rant has such power it stops the show. Bill Bailey magnificently plays against type. David Calvitto is superb. Tuxford's set is clever. Justice is seen to be done!"
(Veronica Lee - Daily Telegraph August 7, 2003)
"ELEVEN comedians, plus the veteran actor Russell Hunter, in a revival of Twelve Angry Men? Sounds as likely as ten tragedians, plus the Duke of Edinburgh, in No Sex Please, We're British. But at this year's Edinburgh Fringe, funny folk have been doffing their caps and bells and playing straight or straightish roles. And they've done no worse than, say, those Hollywood celebs who have taken sabbaticals on the London stage.
In the case of Guy Masterson's production of Reginald Rose's jury-room chiller, they have done better. Steve Furst, Bill Bailey, Stephen Frost and Owen O'Neill are all doing stand-up acts in Edinburgh this year, but that hasn't stopped them giving excellent performances as (respectively) the well-meaning foreman, the tyrant who wants the electric chair for a 16-year-old who reminds him of his own disobedient son, the Wall Street broker whose cold head tells him to vote for conviction, and the earnest democrat who sets the play in motion by arguing that the prosecution's watertight case may have leaks. Henry Fonda famously played that role in Sidney Lumet's screen version, and O'Neill has some of the same unsentimental decency and unpretentious incisiveness.
Who can say that the play has dated when America is still executing young people who, as here, have been ineptly defended? Actually, recent stories from the US leave me feeling that the evident incompetence of defence counsel isn't a weakness in the play but a highly topical strength.
The piece isn't only gripping: it's surprisingly plausible. And that's thanks to comedians such as David Calvitto, Andy Smart and Phil Nichol, the scarily unfunny voice of punitive racism and blue-collar fascism.
(The Times - August 18, 2003)
"Twelve angry funnymen bring real gravity to the court room. The piece isn't only gripping, it's surprisingly plausible. And who can say it's dated when America is still executing young people who, as here, have been ineptly defended?" The incompetence of the defence counsel isn't a weakness, but a highly topical strength."
(Benedict Nightingale - The Times August 7, 2003)
"A TRIUMPH OF JUSTICE. The Standing ovation from an audience who had hung limpet-like onto every detail proves that the Herculean effort of coordinating 12 comedians has been worth it. In a political climate where proper examination of evidence might yet sustain or topple our government, this is a fascinating reminder of democracy's founding principles. It proves that ultimately it is difficult to beat a good, intelligent script with characters so believable you could imagine having a drink with them!"
(Rachel Halliburton - The Evening Standard August 6, 2003)
"Tense, intense and capable of keeping you on the edge of the seat right up to the final moment, this is on of this year's must-see productions. All sceptical questions disappear. This play is every bit as cathartic as a major chuckle fest and, in many ways, the talents of the comedians actually enhance the production's standards. These boys done good when it comes to serious straight character acting. Go see!"
(Thom Dibdin - The Edinburgh Evening News August 11, 2003)
"Guy Masterson's perfectly paced production makes for excellent drama. The cast, most of them comedians by trade, perform brilliantly. Russell Hunter and Phil Nichol are particularly noteworthy for their impassioned and serious performances."
(Three Weeks August 21st, 2003)
"Guy Masterson's masterly production is taut and satisfying. Nine funny men, including former Perrier-nominated comedy stars like Owen O'Neill, Bill Bailey, Jeff Green and Phil Nichol -plus three traditional actors-are also proving their dramatic worth."
(Mark Shenton Sunday Express August 17th, 2003)
"Masterson's 12 Angry Men was always going to be a masterstroke or a grand folly of laughable proportions. But all 12 comedians acquit themselves as admirably as a jury of their acting peers could wish for. Once the clock on the wall starts to could down this terse, tense real time courtroom drama, you cant help but be gripped. How often can you say that a roomful of comedians would rather the laughter stopped for once so they could get on with the job at hand?!" (Alan Chadwick - Metro Scotland August 12, 2003)
"Edinburgh Festival Fringe. At the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Guy Masterson is always high profile, with a varied set of small scale productions, his own and visiting ones, at the Assembly Rooms. That's true this year too but with one difference, there's nothing small scale about his main offering.
Reginald Rose's classic courtroom drama Twelve Angry Men, memorably filmed with Henry Fonda in the 1950s, asks for a cast of, you've guessed it, 12. In Edinburgh in August there are lots of spare blokes about, particularly if your show is at lunchtime and they are stand-up comedians, who mostly come out at night... So how do a bunch of stand-ups, nine in fact together with three "proper" actors, fare at being a jury of 1950's Americans? The answer is triumphantly well. When the one hour 40 minutes of ever-increasing tension, flaring tempers, plot turns and gripping argument was over, the cast was treated to a wholly-deserved standing ovation, something that's not common on the Fringe. Their discipline is deeply impressive. It can't have been easy for performers more used to working alone to form such a rock solid ensemble but not a single crack appeared in the facade of that sweltering jury room.
It's the sort of play in which everyone gets their moment but there are parts and performances that stand out. Owen O'Neill conveys tremendous power and integrity by seeming to do very little as juror number 8, the Henry Fonda role of the lone voice for innocence who argues the other eleven around. Bill Bailey - yes, the comic - curbs all his natural madness to produce the best performance of all as the voice of reason for guilty who is finally himself swayed by reasoned logic. Phil Nichol's juror has barely suppressed fury that erupts into a bigoted racist rant of eye-popping violence.
Guy Masterson's direction is completely assured, moving his cast around the long table in ways that are always visually arresting but never distracting. Each tiny possibility of innocence is perfectly placed and timed, never just plot twists but always miniature explosions of revelation.
The table dominates Katy Tuxford's design but it also cleverly incorporates an on-stage floor plan of the anterooms that echo the one for the apartment that proves so crucial.
Dagmar Morrell's understated costume designs went unnoticed at the time but thinking back I realised how precisely each juror was summed up by his look.
This is virtually a site specific production because Masterson was only able to get the rights for the 23 performances at the Festival. So you have to be here to catch this outstanding piece of narrative theatre. It would be well worth the long journey north to do just that but you probably wouldn't get a ticket. Word of mouth is bound to make this one of the most deservedly hottest shows in town." (Victor Hallett, Western Mail, August 8, 2003)
"There are not many places where you could call together a cast of this calibre to perform Reginald Rose's multi-award winning classic 12 Angry Men, and Edinburgh in August is one of them. It was something of a gamble casting only comedians in the intense jury-room drama 12 Angry Men. But the verdict is in, and it's a triumph.
Sidney Lumet's 1957 Movie version, starring Henry Fonda is a cinematic masterpiece of claustrophobic tension and passionate acting, but whether audiences would accept comics in these most dramatic of roles was always a risk. And whether the comedians themselves were up to it, quite another.
The taught drama is played out on designer Katy Tuxford's stylised grey set (complete with Cluedo-style floorplan), which is more than apt. Above all, this is a play about shades of grey. Not the black and white of guilt and innocence, but the probabilities of 'reasonable doubt'.
The characters, too, are of varying moral shades. From the doubter Juror 8, initially the only man convinced there are question marks over evidence that would send the defendant to his death, to the stubborn, vengeful Juror 3, convinced to the end that justice has found its man.
In the sweltering, claustrophobic jury room, tempers run high as the men passionately decide a young man's fate - though for some the deadline of an impending ball game seems a more pressing concern. As the discussion heats up, questions of pride and prejudice emerge; each juror's failings exposed as their own character colours their view of the defendant and the apparently incontrovertible evidence.
It's a specifically American piece - no reserved Brit would kick up the fuss these jurors do - which requires the comics to adopt unfamiliar accents, with varying degrees of success. But it's testament to the power of the piece that any shortcomings in this department are soon forgotten.
Owen O'Neill, who has the plum role of the idealistic everyman who persuades his colleagues to reconsider every scrap of evidence they have seen, proves himself a convincing actor. Both Stephen Frost (as juror 3) and Phil Nichol (10) have the sort of powerful roles people kill for, full of highly-charged rhetoric and the chance to really let fly. Both do so brilliantly, Nichol's explosive, racist outburst transfixes the audience, while Frost excels in pig-headed passion. But the lower-key roles are perfectly filled, too. Bill Bailey is literally unrecognisable as the coolly logical fourth juror, Ian Coppinger excels as the nerdy pipsqueak who gets goaded a bit too fat and Steve Furst provides the perfect voice of sanity as the foreman. Andy Smart, Dave Johns, David Calvitto, Russell Hunter and Gavin Robertson all deserve mention, not just for the sake of completeness, but because this is a true ensemble piece that relies on each player as much as the next. Director Guy Masterson, a Fringe favourite, has produced a fantastic performance from each of them.
This stage version has perhaps more laughs than the film. Not that any of the stand-ups deliberately seek them, but perhaps they simply have an intrinsic ear for finding comedy in anything. Or perhaps the audience are more primed for laughing, given the cast they have come to see. But, if anything, this enhances the script, rather than detracting from it, providing moments of relief in an otherwise relentless piece.
This is the sort of project that could only have its genesis in Edinburgh, yet it's still a surprise it has worked out so brilliantly. Disregard any misgivings you may have and go see... it's a hit, beyond any reasonable doubt."
(Steven Bennett - Chortle Online)
"This is a play for any comedy fan who wants to see if good comics can act. An amazing cast that includes Bill Bailey, Jeff Green and others proves this fact beyond a doubt. There are some terrific moments with Steve Frost and Ian Coppinger sparring like a cut-throat Laurel and Hardy. Although this is a serious play there are thunderbolts of laughter to ease the tension. Guy Masterson has created a bold and brilliant production that everyone will want to see. Forth Verdict 9/10"
"Fringe veteran, producer, director and performer Guy Masterson produced and directed an outstanding production of Reginald Rose's Twelve Angry Men which was one of the most gripping plays I have ever seen. Stunningly acted almost entirely by comedians such as Bill Bailey and Stephen Frost, it was a spellbinding near two hours which never dragged because it was written and directed in such a way that after every intense build up the tension breaks for long enough for the cast and audience to breathe for just long enough before setting off again at a startling pace."
"Guy Masterson is a living legend at the Edinburgh festival. Every year he directs, acts in and/or produces around six shows, almost all of which are rapturously received. Twelve Angry Men seems to be no exception. A challenge both artistically and financially the piece is rarely performed and the rights a struggle to obtain. The packed house at Edinburgh's second poshest venue are all glad he and the cast made the effort.
The men in question are almost all played by stand up comedians, a rarity, especially considering how high a profile they have in their own field. Bill Bailey, Jeff Green and Phil Nichol all have or have had sell out shows at the festival and it is a surprise to see so many of them in a piece that so democratically divides stage time.
The play itself is a pleasure, tense and deftly directed by Masterson, it shows what happens when a mass of prejudice, passion and duplicity is cooped up in a jury room to decide a young man's fate. With jury trial under increasing threat in the UK, the performance manages to state a case for a system that demands discussion of issues if not always consensus. Issues aside there are some excellent performances here. Bill Bailey is unrecognisable as the indecisive ad man and Steve Frost nails the difficult part of a wounded and angry father. However Phil Nichol shines brightest as Juror 10 whose surly presence finally explodes into a terrifying, racist rant. On that kind of form he could play Stanley Kowalski. Highly recommended."
"12 Angry Men - Tickets for this show were like gold dust following the universal praise from the critics, but I managed to get one of the last available, and the praise was well justified. All 12 performances were outstanding, displaying the versatility of the comedians involved to be able to turn their hands to serious drama. The sense of claustrophobia in the room was tangible, and everyone was mesmerised throughout. Another triumph for Guy Masterson!" (Source: firstname.lastname@example.org)
"Awesome. You won't be able to get a ticket, but go see when it comes to London. Never seen a better ensemble piece. Great play, stunning acting, a really moving two hours." (Nick 19/08/03 - Source: Chortle Online)
"I thought the production was amazing. The set, the acting, the direction all amazing. I've booked to go again already. If this doesn't win any awards during the fringe there will be an outcry. It had a standing ovation from everyone in the theatre and it was well deserved." (Nicola Connor 08/08/03- Source: Chortle Online)
"Just go and see it and you'll love yourself for the rest of your life. 10 out of 10. Pure enjoyment." (Mike Belgrave 08/08/03- Source: Chortle Online)