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REVIEW: “12 Angry Jurors” by Sandgate Theatre Inc.

A Riveting Modern Take on "Twelve Angry Men"


Sandgate Theatre Inc. delivers a gripping rendition of "12 Angry Jurors", enveloping the audience in the intense deliberations of a diverse jury as they decide the fate of a teenager accused of murdering his father. Each character, identified only by juror number, grapples with their biases and preconceptions as the tension escalates. The gradual evolution of opinion, spurred by Juror 8's unwavering commitment to justice, is a testament to the importance of standing up for what is right, even in the face of overwhelming opposition.


If you, like me, remember studying the original play, "Twelve Angry Men", from high school, you'll notice some changes in this modernised Australian adaptation. First off, there are four men and eight women on the jury this time, and instead of a death sentence, it's life in jail on the line. This alteration provided a new perspective to the narrative, especially with women taking on most of the lead roles.


Set in the round, with the jurors’ conference room at its centre, the immersive staging cleverly placed the audience within the heart of the action. Despite the inherent challenges of projecting their voices without microphones in a reverberant space, the cast rose to the occasion by amplifying the intensity of their discussions.

Meticulously selected for their roles, the cast delivered wonderful performances that brought the jurors to life with authenticity and conviction. Their ability to convey the nuances of their characters from the subtle movements to the impassioned monologues, ensured that even those jurors with their backs to the audience remained compelling and believable throughout.


Meg Kiddle's portrayal of Juror 8, the voice of reason, was particularly compelling. Kiddle's frustration and determination were palpable, even as her back was turned to me. She served admirably as the impartial anchor amidst the turmoil. Jeremy Wellwood, Greg Jones, Nicky Whichelow, and Carmen Heath also left a lasting impression as they navigated complex character emotions with finesse. Wellwood, as Juror 4, delivered a performance marked by restraint and intelligence. His measured demeanour provided a counterbalance to the heightened emotions swirling around him. Jones, in the role of Juror 7, dominated the proceedings with his charismatic presence and obnoxious demeanour of his character. Heath's interpretation of Juror 10 captured the odious character's bigotry and insecurity, serving as a sobering reminder of the impact of unchecked biases on the pursuit of justice. Whichelow's portrayal of Juror 3 was a tour de force of raw emotion and vulnerability as she navigated the character's journey from obstinacy to introspection.


Special mention must be made of Catherine Radbourne, who skilfully directed the production and showcased her talent on stage as Juror 12. Her direction imbued the play with a sense of urgency and authenticity, while her performance added moments of lightness to the tense narrative. Radbourne's keen understanding of the material brought out the best in her cast, resulting in a cohesive and compelling performance from all.


Overall, "12 Angry Jurors" is a must-see for anyone craving a night of gripping drama. The production captures the essence of a real-life courtroom drama, keeping me on the edge of my seat for most of Act 2! I recommend securing a central seat for the best view of the action and prepare to be thoroughly engaged by this modern take on a classic tale.


(Note: The play contains themes of domestic violence and murder, which may be distressing to some audience members.)


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