Twelve Angry Men, written by Reginald Rose and currently playing at The City Theatre, is a powerful look at what happens when one man is courageous enough to question the opinion of the majority.
A poor, 16-year-old boy with a court-appointed public defender is accused of brutally murdering his father in a moment of uncontrollable fury after enduring years of physical abuse at his father’s hand. The prosecution presented two damning witnesses to the boy’s assertion that he didn’t murder his father. One of the witnesses claims she actually witnessed the murder. So what is the issue? The verdict certainly seems to be a no-brainer. And yet…we see how one man can make a difference. A man who simply says, “I don’t know.” As the deliberations proceed, the jurors reveal how their bigotry, indifference, conflicting priorities, and misplaced anger lead them to the expedient choice to convict the boy. If they find him guilty as charged, he faces a mandatory death penalty.
You may well ask, why would I go see a play about such a serious topic? I have enough things to worry about in my own life. Because good theatre holds the mirror up to life and does it in such a way that we can step back and look at the issue from a different perspective.
What if someone wrongfully accused me of a serious crime and I might face a fate similar to that of the young boy? What if I were a juror in a case like this? Would I be impatient to go along with any verdict to make sure I didn’t fail to meet my commitments to friends or family? If eleven others voted guilty, why shouldn’t I agree with them and cast a guilty vote as well? Because it matters!!!! Because the majority is not always right? Because, because, because. Ask Michael Morton if it matters?
Kudos to director Karen Sneed for assembling such a talented cast. Rick Felkins portrayal of Juror Three is outstanding. He deftly peels back the layers until his character’s core is exposed. He is an extraordinary talent and his performance alone is reason to see the show. John Meadows, Jim Lindsay, Andy Brown, Jeff Patterson, Rob Mora, Rick Smith, Michael Rains, Johnny Stewart, Kirk Miller, Freddy Carnes, and Brian Miller round out the talented cast in this production. Each actor has crafted a memorable character representative of the varying segments of society in 1957.
The production team has given us a space that does indeed seem to be one of those look-alike rooms in a nondescript government building. The effects team creates a slightly uncomfortable environment in the first act and like the actors the audience sweats just enough to experience the juror’s discomfort. Then, the cooling rain comes and all is well through the rest of the production. Kudos to them for “enveloping” the audience with the subtle sounds of rain on every side as if we were actually in that room with those twelve jurors.
Twelve Angry Men runs through June 9 at The City Theatre located at 3823 Airport Blvd. in Austin. Performances are Thursday – Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sunday at 5:30 pm. Ticket prices range from $15 – $25. For reservations call 512-524-2870 or go to firstname.lastname@example.org.