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12 Angry Men Review

Reviewed by Bethany Hill at Derby Theatre
Tickets were gifted in return for an honest review

What would you do with the power to condemn? It’s 1950’s America, a life for a life, simple … right?

Photo by Jack Merriman

Following a hugely successful run on the West End, Reginald Rose’s 12 Angry Men is out on the road on tour around the UK. Based on the 1957 film which was nominated for three academy awards, the crime drama tells the story of a jury of twelve who together are responsible for the fate of a young man accused of killing his father. Whilst at first the decision appears clear-cut, it soon becomes apparent that things are not as simple as they first appeared and that prejudice and morality itself must be questioned. With so many twists and questions unearthed, the play is a thrill-ride for the audience until the very end. I found myself playing along with the characters as I questioned for myself the evidence on trial and gasping and smirking alongside audience members when new information came to light.

The cast was led by former Emmerdale and Queer as Folk star Jason Merrells who played Juror 8, a man willing to question the status quo. He led opinions towards innocence with self-assurance, intellect and commanding stage presence for the jury and audience alike. All twelve, or indeed thirteen, actors worked perfectly as a team with no weak links, reflecting the diverse and at times problematic society that we live in. Standout performances included the anguished Samarge Hamilton as Juror 5, the innocent and troubled Paul Beech’s Juror 9 and Tristan Gemmill’s pained Juror 3. However what made this show so special is the way that all the performances moved and interacted together with grit and at times humour.

What struck me about this production is the complexity and yet simplicity of the delivery. This show at its heart explores judgement of character, the ability of humans to make mistakes and to judge others without question, blinded by their own experiences. It questions whether it is possible to make a decision about someone else’s life beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, the focus must be at all times on the interaction between these ordinary people. The staging lends itself brilliantly to this; a simple jury room, a locked door, a central table for this to take place.

However, something at first easy to miss was the movement of the table which turns in small degrees throughout the show. With your focus so integrally on the characters, it is easy to miss this subtle staging choice however it perfectly reflects both the passing of time like a clock ticking and the turning of points of view of many of the characters.

Photo by Jack Merriman

If you are a fan of a murder mystery or a true crime drama, Twelve Angry Men provides the perfect night of intrigue, thrill and satisfaction. With audience gasps and laughter throughout, it would be a CRIME to miss it!


12 Angry Men plays at Derby Theatre until 3rd February before continuing around the UK. Tickets are available from

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