It is hard to know what to label the performance that will be 12 Angry Women, on Monday 4 February, and it doesn’t seem to be much help asking the director or producer – “an experiment”, “a reading”, “a trail”, “like a first reading”. But one thing is for certain: it not your average play. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. It is not that the play is not fully formed in concept, quite the opposite.
The ‘experiment’ is seemingly the point. The the cast are assuredly excellent and the script is fantastic. The play retains the original and entire script of the classic play 12 Angry Men, but the focus is changed considerably when women inhabit the roles previously acted and written for men. Since this disjunct between the language and situation that the play involves, and the play as it stands with the female performances is the primary focus of the project the actors will be reading from scripts.
As the show’s director, Katie Ebner-Landy, said, “We aim to promote discussion and get people thinking.” However, from the pre and post play entertainment, this hardly seems all of what they wish to achieve. There will be live DJ sets either end of the performance, mixing hip-hop, classic RnB and funk. Moreover, it is to be performed in a truly wonderful venue – the Macmillan Room in the Oxford Union. The period features and all-round grandeur of the room will oddly compliment the ahistorical take on this classic.
I have not seen the play, but I feel oddly assured of its success, only for the fact that it seems to evoke such confidence and joy from its team. Both Ebner-Laney and Roughan seemed comfortable and relaxed with how everything was shaping up, which fills one with confidence for the performance. “It is the most fun I’ve had doing a play”, said Rebecca Roughan, the producer, and quite frankly, I believe her. It seems, as the play is not motivated by money – it being free entry for union members – there has been a focus purely on the play for the play’s sake – which is a pleasant surprise.
All in all, I should think that this would be a very entertaining, not to mention though-provoking evening. As much as someone who has not seen any of the play can advise, I would say that this is a performance which would be thoroughly enjoyable.