There is plenty of raw emotion and compelling drama firing up the Scott Block Theatre stage currently with Red Deer Players’ superb rendition of Twelve Angry Men.
The production runs through to June 20th with curtain at 8 p.m.
Directed by Lori Lane, the play concerns the deliberations of the jury of a homicide trial. At the beginning, the men have a nearly unanimous decision of guilt, with a single dissenter of not guilty, who throughout the play sows a seed of reasonable doubt.
That little seed grows as the men rehash, re-enact and dissect the details of testimony they heard throughout the course of the trial. The picture grows cloudier – and the question of ‘reasonable doubt’ cannot be ignored any longer.
But it’s by no means an easy path to a unanimous decision. Personal judgments, opinions, prejudices and past experiences spill over into the heated discussions and we see quite vividly the real reasons why some of the men hold so staunchly to their views regarding the guilt of the accused.
Lane has done a remarkable job in guiding what must have been a most challenging production to stage. It can’t be easy working with a large cast, and drawing out such a range of intensity as the play’s momentum builds. But Lane has done it, and it all works well. There were a couple of stumbles on opening night, but the consistent pacing and flow of debate came across quite naturally.
Of course, the cast lived up to the demands of the script as well. Albert Azzara, as juror number 10, can always, always be counted on for a superb turn in anything he is featured in. In this play, he shows a powerful dramatic edge as compared to his usual comedic side and does an exceptional job.
Also outstanding is Nigel Lane as juror number 3. This man is on a mission, initially, to convict the young man, pretty much no matter what. Nigel is terrific – a mix of deep anger and deep pain, the reasons for which eventually surface. Newcomer Derrek Seelinger is also a force as juror number seven – relentlessly and extremely ticked off that the whole deliberation process isn’t moving fast enough, it’s interesting to watch his change of heart as well.
With 12 men in the show, there are limitations to how much various actors can contribute – but suffice it to say there isn’t a weak one in the bunch. They all have to be ‘on’ all of the time as not one of them ever leaves the stage for the duration of the show. Every expression, movement, every grimace – you name it – is there for audiences to see. And the men as a whole nail those challenges, again and again.
Twelve Angry Men was first made as a 1954 teleplay by Reginald Rose for the Studio One anthology television series, and was aired as a live production on Sept. 20th, 1954. The drama was later rewritten for the stage in 1955.
The play is indeed a story of drama and intensity, which has fueled its status as an enduring film and theatrical production. It’s a clever story, and grabs a person’s attention from the get-go and pretty much doesn’t let go. Congratulations to all involved for staging a powerful production that really works on so many levels.
Tickets are available at the Black Knight Ticket Centre by calling 403-755-6626 or visiting www.blackknightinn.ca.