Twelve Angry Men
Cultural Centre, Studio Theatre Apr 26-May 6
Dominic Cheung gives the murder defendant in his upcoming play, rather resolutely, the benefit of the doubt. “I believe that there is justice but never objectivity,” says the director, pondering the crux of the matter in the story. “It is impossible to be objective, as human beings are absolutely subjective animals.” Twelve Angry Men (1954) was first conceived by American screenwriter Reginald Rose as a teleplay and later a film version (1957), before appearing in various stage productions. The drama is set in a jury room in New York where 12 anonymous jurors are required to deliberate on whether a teenager is guilty of patricide.
This Cantonese version by Theatre Space, already in its fourth run, has the director-translator accumulate more evidence to distrust the 12 disparate characters – even the righteous Juror Eight who is initially the only one who stands against the 11 guilty votes. “When I discussed with the actors, I made a point of asking them to look for their characters’ weaknesses. I explained to them that this play is a showcase of human weaknesses,” says Cheung, who wants his audience to think themselves a juror in this court case, which can be seen as ‘a trial on humanity’. This is aided by the all-seeing four-sided stage design.
“We are simultaneously good and evil. Yet, our actions are easily governed by our evil side without ourselves knowing. We still think ourselves as good, fair and righteous,” says Cheung. “Any system would break down if the people [adopting it] weren’t good-natured. Ultimately, it’s down to the problem of humanity; with the problem of humanity, we need the theatre.”
Performed in Cantonese. Tickets: 2734 9009; www.urbtix.hk.