The play opens after all the testimony in the trial has been given, and the Judge...
In Twelve Angry Men, by Reginald Rose, the eighteen-year-old defendant has been charged with "murder in the first degree . . . premeditated homicide" for allegedly killing his father with a knife.
The play opens after all the testimony in the trial has been given, and the Judge is giving instructions to the Jury before they retire to the jury room to deliberate and decide on a verdict.
JUDGE: . . . I urge you to deliberate honestly and thoughtfully. You are faced with a grave responsibility. Thank you, gentlemen.
CLERK: The jury will retire.
The Jury files into the jury room. A few light cigarettes, one smokes a pipe, some gather around the water cooler, and others take their seats at the table.
The stage notes tell us the following:
JUROR SEVEN goes to the window and opens it wider.
Symbolically, Juror Seven already wants out of the jury room.
JUROR SEVEN produces a pack of gum and offers a piece to the men by the water cooler
The playwright provided descriptions of all of the characters in the play.
JUROR NO. SEVEN: He is a loud, flashy, glad-handed salesman type who has more important things to do than to sit on a jury. He is quick to show temper and equally quick to form opinions on things about which he knows nothing. He is a bully, and, of course, a coward.
Jurors Seven and Ten are the first jurors to try to discredit the young defendant's story.
JUROR SEVEN [to TEN]. How did you like that business about the knife? Did you ever hear a phonier story? . . . He bought a switch knife that night . . . .
JUROR TEN [with a sneer]. And then he lost it.
JUROR SEVEN. A hole in his pocket.
We soon learn why Juror Seven is impatient to find the defendant guilty and get out of the jury room as soon as possible:
FOREMAN: All right, gentlemen. Let's take seats.
JUROR SEVEN. Right. This better be fast. I've got tickets to [insert name of any current Broadway hit] for tonight. I must be the only guy in the world who hasn't seen it yet . . . . Okay, your honor, start the show.
Just a few minutes later, Juror Seven is the first juror to call for a vote on the verdict:
JUROR SEVEN. Let's vote now. Who knows, maybe we can all go home.
In act 3, over two hours later, Juror Seven is still calling for vote . . .
JUROR SEVEN. Listen, I'll tell you all something. I'm a little sick of this whole thing already. We're getting nowhere fast. Let's break it up and go home.
We never learn if Juror Seven made it to the Broadway show, but we do learn the verdict.