REVIEW: Twelve Angry Men, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, Until June 20

Twelve Angry Men is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.

Twelve Angry Men is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.

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One man is dead, and the life of another hangs in the balance.

In 1950s New York, a 16-year-old boy is accused of murdering his father, and it falls to a jury of 12 men to decide his fate.

Find him guilty, and it’s the death penalty.

In theory, the stage version of Twelve Angry Men should be quite boring. It takes place entirely in one room and is essentially two hours of a group of men arguing about someone you’ve never met and don’t really know anything about.

But the courtroom drama is anything but.

The story is compelling and the show is completely gripping.

Twelve Angry Men is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.

Twelve Angry Men is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.

As the story unfolds, and the jurors pull apart the evidence, discussing why they have doubts that the boy is guilty, the audience is completely sucked in to the story.

The set is very authentic and although it comprises of only one room, it has little tricks to make it that bit more interesting, from working taps to windows that drip rain water when the weather takes a turn for the worse and the way the jurors’ table revolves to give each actor their turn facing the audience.

Tom Conti is a confident lead as Juror 8. As the discussions begin, he’s the only one who is unsure if the boy killed his father, and despite the anger of jurors who have sick kids to get home to and baseball games to see, he shares his thoughts in the hope of bringing them round.

The stellar cast is absolutely incredible. Each of the jurors – Conti, Andrew Lancel, Denis Lill, Robert Duncan, Paul Beech, David Calvitto, Mark Carter, Gareth David-Lloyd, Alexander Forsyth, Andrew Frame, Edward Halsted and Sean Power – has their own personality that really comes across throughout the show. Despite never learning their names, you feel like you know them, and there will be one that every audience member can identify with.

The writing is sharp, exciting and witty. You’ll find yourself so caught up in the action that you’ll find it hard to believe that more than an hour has gone by when the first act ends.

The show is also surprisingly funny. The conflict between the characters and the way they bounce off each other is fantastic.

Conti, in particular, raised quite a few giggles with his sharp come-backs and interactions with other characters – his timing was perfect.

The writing is sharp, exciting and witty. You’ll find yourself so caught up in the action that you’ll find it hard to believe that more than an hour has gone by when the first act ends.

The show is also a thought-provoking one – could you really sentence a man to death without being absolutely sure he’s guilty of his crime?

Twelve Angry Men is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.

Twelve Angry Men is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.

See this show while it’s in town. It would be a crime to miss it.

Twelve Angry Men runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday, June 20. Click here to book tickets.

Twitter: @vickinewmanjp