"Facts may be colored by the personalities who present them."
This ominous line is the least of the things that I take back when I saw Twelve Angry Jurors at Royal Opera House on Sunday. Twelve Angry Jurors is based on Reginald Rose's teleplay titled 12 Angry Men. The title has been modified to represent women who are now permitted to be a part of the jury system. You would think what would a story which was first aired in 1956 have to say anymore. This play was first presented as a part of the Aadyam festival and it opened to rave reviews. Because even if the story was familiar, the concept still leaves room for debate.
An 18-year-old boy is on trial for murdering his father with a knife. The prosecutors and the defendants have already rested their case and it is upto 12 jurors to come to a verdict. The verdict of guilty can lead to the boy's execution and a verdict of non-guilty could set a murderer free. As the juror's take a preliminary vote, the verdict is 11 to 1 in favor of guilty. Juror no. 8 is the only one who doesn't vote guilty. And then starts the very intriguing conversation as the jurors go through every aspect of the case again. Now it is upto the lone juror to prove why there is a reasonable doubt on the facts presented. Each juror has their own motivation for the choices they make and those motivations are slowly revealed as Juror no. 8 slowly casts a reasonable doubt on the facts presented in the case.
The life of a young boy is in balance and twelve people have the power over it. As human beings, they cannot be emotionally detached from the situation and those emotions color their judgment. Even when the play is over, it leaves you with a feeling that even twelve people should not be given that kind of responsibility for someone's life.
A Bollywood movie once had a dialogue that a person looks for religion in someone's name and the absence of names helps towards eliminating that. Not once do names come up although the jurors do exhibit certain tendencies which are associated with a certain group of people there is nothing clear about who they are beyond that room. The performances are incredible as the conversation flows, you forget you are watching a scripted performance. Rajit Kapur stands out as Juror no. 8 and he is the calmest among the angry jurors as he stands his ground. The cast also includes Deven Khote, Devika Shahani, Shivani Tanksale, Rohit Malkani, Nikhil Murali, Prerna Chawla, Shivani Sawant, Sohrab Ardeshir and Suresh Venkat. The whole cast works so seamlessly together that it might seem that they have been doing this for over a decade but it hasn't been over a year since their first performance.
Let's talk about the venue, the revamped Royal Opera House leaves you in awe with the decor which re-creates the best of theatres you have seen over the years. Although they no longer have box seating, you know you are in for an experience of a lifetime once you walk through those doors.
Because of the popularity, Rage Productions might bring this amazing play to your city soon. Make sure you book your tickets when it comes to your city.