Reginald Rose’s spiky, expertly written “Twelve Angry Men” shows us a jury at work, depicting the cultural norms of the 1950s while capturing that era’s flavor. Even decades later, the play is still utterly fascinating and compelling.
At Attic Theater, director Kathy Paladino has assembled a solid cast that gets at the heart of Rose’s classic script.
In the first-degree murder case depicted, the jury’s verdict must be unanimous either way, with 12 guilty votes carrying a mandatory death sentence.
At first, 11 of the 12 jurors regard as “open and shut” the case of a 16-year-old male accused of stabbing his father to death. But Juror No. 8 (Mark Tillman) – like all 12 characters, known only by his number – has nagging doubts which he tries to elucidate for his fellow jurors.
Rose’s jurors analyze, argue and dissect the details of the case, and he uses Juror No. 8, and others, to poke holes in the prosecution’s case and witness testimony and to raise issues not defined by the defense.
The play endures because, although the case’s facts are intriguing, it’s how each juror sees and interprets them – and how they feel about their fellow jurors – that color, cloud or clarify their view of the defendant, the case and their final vote.
Attic’s production shows us plenty of loud bluster from all 12 jurors and not just those antagonistic to Juror No. 8. And…