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REVIEW: Twelve Angry Men satisfies the emotional demands of exacting play

by Marie Male

ST. JACOBS - Drayton Entertainment shows its serious side in Twelve Angry Men, now playing at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse.

A compelling and provocative story finds its niche as the rapt audience judges and measures along with the sweating men before them.

The setting is a sweltering jury room in the dog days of summer, augmenting the tempers of a group of men willing to take the route of least resistance and convict a 16-year-old boy of murdering his father, thus condemning him to death. Juror 8 is the lone dissenter.  Each moment winds the tension tighter as Juror 8 goes to bat for the boy and attempts to convince the other 11 jurors of the reasonable doubt he alone senses. The character, or lack thereof, of each juror is revealed in short order, further calling the fragility yet absolute finality of the justice system into question.

Performances in the show are nothing short of remarkable. Prejudice obscuring justice is epitomized by Nicholas Rice as Juror 10. His convincing depiction ranges from “these people” haughty to solemn. Victor Roberts portrays compassion and dignity to great affect as the Juror 9.

Juror 8 is played by James Kall with the confidence and decency necessary to sway his fellow jurors. David Ludwig runs the gamut of emotions, all of them authentic. Keith Savage plays it straight and insightful as the 11th juror, of European descent. Audience members may recognize  Jonathan Whittaker as a familiar television actor in his dramatic Drayton debut. Each performance has the audience members transported to the jurors room and musing on their own convictions.

The play was written in 1954 by Reginald Rose and inspired by his own experience as a juror on a manslaughter case in New York City. At first, he had been reluctant, but wrote, “The moment I walked into the courtroom … and found myself facing a strange man whose fate was suddenly more or less in my hands, my entire attitude changed.”

In 1957, Twelve Angry Men was made into a memorable film starring Henry Fonda as Juror 8 and has since played on Broadway and beyond.

Twelve Angry Men as directed by Adam Furfaro is testament to his talent and experience in his eight seasons with Drayton Entertainment. 

Complimenting the on-stage talent was a set so realistic in its legal institution feel right down to the heater grill and towel dispenser. The “rainstorm” was lovely and refreshing to hear and behold. Allan Wilbee was the off-stage talent.

Audience members may leave the show not angry, but filled with images of themselves as the heroic Juror 8.

Twelve Angry Men runs through to Oct. 24. Tickets can be booked by calling the Drayton Entertainment Box Office at 519-747-7788 or toll-free at 1-888-449-4463.

 

Vol 43 Issue 42

 
 

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