The following will be a twelve thousand word dissertation on the seventy page long play by Reginald Rose. Or maybe not. Maybe I'll simply stick to reviewing.
Recently I've been reading several plays and short stories. In part because I'm required to (like this one) and in part because I enjoy the difference in media. So I shall promptly go over what makes Twelve Angry Men different.
The play itself covers the case of an apparently guilty boy claimed to have stabbed his father. The prosecution appears to have condemned the boy effectively and the witness evidence appears sound to all jury members. That is all except for one juror alone who stands questioning whether the boy should be condemned so rashly. And gradually the true details of the case emerge under cross examination.
Rose uses his play to analyse human prejudices effectively and in a highly intriguing manner. Like a surgeon he opens up the minds and hearts of his characters to reveal how their backgrounds and personal opinions influence their decisions. Its a brilliant exploration and analysis of prejudice really and makes you think. Are all the decisions we firmly make based on evidence or are they more emotional?
The one reason I feel I cannot give this brilliant piece of work five stars is that a reader can easily be lost with who is who. Rose never names his characters instead referring to them as Juror 2, Juror 3 and so on. Which sounds alight until you find yourself trying to work out which Juror is on which side and what Juror is arguing what. However the manner in which Rose attempts to tackle an intriguing and difficult subject matter makes this text worth both a read and a viewing as a film (I recommend the Henry Fonda version rather than any other).
So now comes to the all important question: why should you read this play? Well for starters it is short. You can easily read it in one sitting if you're a voracious reader. Secondly it contains brilliantly scripted dialogue and implied questions. Thirdly its an engaging text which is well written if not the most poetic play ever. Its simply well structured and to the point, the hallmarks of powerful writing. So I suggest that you read it and enjoy it. And if you don't well I have the last life since you read this review and wasted seconds off your life. Oh wait I wasted time writing this then...