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This performance of the play which was adapted into the (wonderful) 1957 film starring Henry Fonda, features Martin Shaw in the role of Juror number 8, who must convince his fellow jurors that there is reasonable doubt in the case of a young man accused of murdering his father.  The rest of the cast of this production which I saw at the wonderful Birmingham Rep Theatre, includes Robert Vaughn as juror 9, Jeff Fahey as the bullying juror 3, Nick Moran as juror 7, who only wants to get the case finished with so that he can go to a baseball match, and Edward Franklin as juror 5.

I thought the play was wonderful, and judging by the enthusiastic response and standing ovation from the audience, so did everybody else.  Shaw was excellent as the only juror to initially believe that the defendant may not be guilty, and I also loved Robert Vaughn as the sensible and intelligent fellow juror who is the first to agree.  Jeff Fahey was ideally cast as juror number 3 – an unsympathetic character, who is projecting his own unhappiness at his failed relationship with his son, onto the young man sitting in the dock.

With a small cast of 13 (twelve jurors and a guard), all of whom were on stage the whole time, and with just one setting, the atmosphere was suitably claustrophobic, as tensions run high amongst the men who just can’t seem to reach a verdict with which they all agree.  The staging was very clever, with the table around which the jurors sit – for the most part, when they are not pacing the room or staring out of the window – slowly revolves, so that no character is ever really out of clear view of the audience.

The whole cast were wonderful, it did seem like a natural conversation rather than scripted lines.  It was completely absorbing and the audience seemed captivated throughout – I most certainly was!

Whether you have seen this play before, are a fan of the film, or just like excellent drama performed by a top-notch cast, this play is definitely worth seeing.  It will shortly be playing in London, and I highly recommend it.

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Click here for my review of the 1957 film.

Click here for my review of the 1997 film.

Click here for my review of the 2015 production.

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