12. Theatre Review. The Lantern Theatre, Liverpool.
Cast: Shaun Fagan, Morgan McBride, Nick Crosbie, Jamie Vere, Robbie Locke, Bob Schofield, Owen Jones, Josh Quigley, Josh Hughes, Bradley Walker, Paul Holliday, Sophie Eves.
Transferring a 1950’s Henry Fonda classic film to the unsympathetic existence of 21st century Liverpool takes some imagination and a lot of writing talent to give it the grim reality that post war Hollywood films sometimes glossed over. With Shaun Fagan and Matthew Shiel at the helm of 12, the latest play to be performed at The Lantern Theatre, this was more than was ever needed to show how good writing can shine through no matter how unattractive and prejudicial the story line is.
Adapted from the film Twelve Angry Men and directed by Matthew Shiel, the claustrophobic, intense and ugly side of humanity standing over the life of one man is brought in to sharp and unrelenting focus by the writer Shaun Fagan. His script deals with the bigotry and knee jerk reactions of the 2011 riots coupled with the idea of sending an alleged murder to jail for his life when there is room for much doubt alongside the deep rooted antagonistic thoughts of some men. It begs the question of who is really on trial, with society and truth hanging in the balance in the games men play.
The Lantern Theatre lent itself perfectly as it housed the 12 people on stage and the claustrophobia bared down on each person’s descent into self-reflection of why the supposed murderer was guilty or indeed innocent. The actors played off this force incredibly well and as the mood ebbed and waned as each person looked into their conscious, it became almost gratifyingly stifling as the real reasons for their guilty verdicts became apparent.
Much credit must go to Nick Crosbie whose calm manner held the argument together in the face of tough opposition led by Morgan McBride and Jamie Vere, the two sides of human emotion being played out superbly by these three actors. Bob Schofield was a joy to watch as he become more embroiled in the cynicism of his actions and Paul Holliday as the Czech voice in the crowd was tremendous. A huge applause should go to Sophie Eves who pulled off the biggest surprise of the night by portraying a man with diligent and interesting ability.
A thought provoking, generous piece of writing that could be watched time and time again.
Ian D. Hall