MANY people consider Henry Fonda’s performance as an unconvinced and questioning juror in the Sidney Lumet-helmed and thrice Oscar nominated movie Twelve Angry Men of 1957 to be his finest role.

Here, Reginald Rose’s 1954 courtroom thriller teleplay is brought to life again by a motley crew of TV regulars under the direction of Christopher Haydon in a production brought from the West End on tour by Bill Kenwright Ltd.

Casualty and Emmerdale star Jason Merrells takes the Henry Fonda role of Juror 8, ably supported by an ensemble cast including Gray O’Brien (Coronation Street, Peak Practice), Tristan Gemmill (Coronation Street, Casualty), Michael Greco (EastEnders), Ben Nealon (Soldier Soldier) and Gary Webster (Minder, Family Affairs).

Character actors including Paul Beech, Samarge Hamilton, Jeffrey Harmer, Mark Heenehan, Kenneth Jay, Paul Lavers and Owen Oldroyd complete the cast of this gripping tale which is touring until May.

The action takes place in the sweltering jury room of the New York County Courthouse with the court in session to try the case of a delinquent 16-year-old accused of murdering his abusive father.

And with the electric chair the mandatory outcome of a guilty verdict, it is little surprise that tensions soon rise among the overheated jurors after what looks to be an open and shut case becomes ever more complicated.

It begins behind a mesh screen with the voice of a judge directing the jury that they must be sure beyond ‘reasonable doubt’ to convict the accused. The stage is then revealed to be the jury room, with a rest room to one side and the lobby to the other.

The play is beautifully staged by Michael Pavelka and Haydon’s direction sees constant movement in what could easily have been a static occasion.

The characters are varied – architect, broker, salesman, coach, painter, ad man et al – with the forthright and opinionated mixing with the quiet and thoughtful.

No spoilers here but, suffice to say, Twelve Angry Men delivers two hours of fascinating and compelling theatre, demonstrating that a good script is paramount and how the power of words can influence situations and turn preconceived ideas and prejudices on their head.

Merrells, Gemmill and O’Brien command most attention, but this is very much an ensemble performance with all 13 performers sharing the spotlight, almost as though they are just waiting for their solo spots, with the quietly spoken characters having just as much impact.

There are, of course, a few dodgy accents, but that’s a minor quibble and the verdict is that it’s good to see quality drama back at Lighthouse.

The production runs until Saturday.