THE enduring power of this show was richly illustrated by the success of last year’s West End revival which arrived in Windsor this week.

A packed audience sat riveted during Tuesday’s opening night, caught up in the emotional anguish of the 12 jurors in the play as they agonised over whether or not to send a 16-year-old boy to the electric chair.

The play reflects a 1950s world when juries of male, white, Anglo Saxon men could pass ‘life or death’ judgement on racial minorities.

Sometimes it shows its age in the way the individual jurors neatly reflect a range of attitudes.

Perhaps the play’s ‘hero’ is a little too good to be true, a calm voice of reason and decency– but with a knack of making his point with devastating, unanswerable accuracy at exactly the right moment.

Any stage production has a disadvantage over the original film and TV productions – with no camera to hone in on particular actors at key moments.

But this production has the advantage of Tom Conti, whose unique way with a quizzical look can cut across the footlights to make immediate personal connection with an audience.

He is the still, calm centre at the heart of the piece.

Every dog has his day in this show – as one by one the individual jurors reveal more of themselves and the actors playing them get to shine.

Andrew Lancel – coming complete with a reputation as legendary ‘soap’ villain Frank Foster in Corrie – stands out in the demanding role of a crude, macho man inwardly poisoned by the break-up of the relationship with his son.

Denis Lill attacks the role of the bigoted fool from hell with everything he has got – although absolutely no chance for light and shade has been provided here by the author.

Paul Beech also has fine moments as the oldest juror, quietly watchful and capable of great anger, while Sean Power expertly captures the supercilious exterior of a cocky salesman with nothing to offer beyond wisecracks.

Director Christopher Haydon keeps the characters moving – circling each other as they go back and forth from the cloakroom, to the window.

There is a stunning moment of danger and threat when two particularly angry characters ‘try out’ actions with a dangerous flick knife - supposedly to prove a point about how the murder was done. It drew gasps on Tuesday night and must have been choreographed with enormous care.

Designer Michael Pavelka’s set cleverly creates a sense of the sweltering outside world – as the explosive eruptions within the jury room are reflected by the elements.

Twelve Angry Men runs at Theatre Royal Windsor, in Thames Street, until Saturday February 7. Evening performances 8pm, Thursday matinee 2.30pm, Saturday matinee 4.45pm. To book visit or call the box office on 01753 853 888.

Coming up: Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter On Air Wednesday February 11 to Saturday February 21.