Twelve Angry Men
Photos by Robert Day
‘Twelve Angry Men‘ was a co-production between Birmingham Rep and Bill Kenwright playing in the West End at the Garrick Theatre. The major challenges for director Chris Haydon and me were to come to terms with the inescapable period that the play was set in and also the potential static staging around the table in the Jury Room. We considered various ways of deconstructing the architecture of the building to help break up the space, giving a changing perspective of it and create a more theatrical rather than realistic environment to tell the story in.
We broke up the elements needed for the play to work and repositioned them in a believable relationship to one another but suspended more peripheral objects and images above and beyond the focal point of the table using a contemporary framework. The design became a metaphor for the fagility of the justice system. The break up of the room allowed us to make other elements unstable – the main table revolved at an imperceptible speed, 180 degrees per hour, that helped motivate a variety of character groupings as the balance of the argument tipped.
Designing the costumes was very much a case of sifting through the evidence that the playwright Reginald Rose allowed us as reference points, and no more. The clothes had to reflect, but not overstate, the life histories that the twelve characters (plus one; the guard) brought with them into the room.