BWW Review: TWELVE ANGRY MEN at Theatre Three
Reginald Rose's Tony nominated play Twelve Angry Men is certainly an affecting piece and a wonderful selection for Theatre Three's thrilling 48th Season. This superb showing, running through May 5th at the stunning Port Jefferson venue, is excellently directed by Bradlee E. Bing and indeed continues the intense atmosphere that Mr. Rose created starting with an Emmy winning TV broadcast in 1954.
The gripping two-act production takes place as a jury is carefully deliberating a murder trial in which a young man is accused of killing his father. The story begins after closing arguments as the judge is giving his instructions to the jury. They are under an enormous amount of pressure as 1) either verdict must be unanimous and 2) a guilty verdict will be accompanied by a mandatory death sentence. Tempers flare and things are said as they examine this daunting case.
The terrific ensemble cast of thirteen - twelve jurors and the Court Guard - has no "lead" per se. Each of the players get their moment to shine including providing well placed comic relief in the midst of the thick tension that builds. To add, they don't even address each other by name. They address each other as Juror #1, #2, ext. The juror probably most highlighted is Juror #8 (the Henry Fonda role from Mr. Rose's 1957 movie incarnation) excellently portrayed by Steven Ayle. He is the first to vote not guilty and makes very compelling arguments as to why he believes something is not right with the case. Frustration abounds as they thought this was going to be an easy process.
On the clever creative team, a highlight is the well-detailed set designed by Randall Parsons. A large conference room table, a piece of the New York City skyline peeking through the window, and a water cooler make up the deliberations room. This is complemented well by Robert W. Henderson, Jr.'s lighting design. You will also find that the book is really well written. It is truly the mark of a good story when it has the ability to change your way of thinking - if slightly. As you (the audience) examine this case with this "jury" and ponder each detail from their point of view, you become perhaps a little sympathetic with the sometimes unpopular decisions of juries hearing high profile, complicated court cases.
And so, Twelve Angry Men, is indeed another hit for Port Jefferson's Theatre Three. An enthralling, compelling tale and a remarkable cast make for an exhilarating night of theatre.
Twelve Angry Men is presented by Theatre Three of Port Jefferson, Long Island, through May 5th. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (631) 928-9208 or visit www.theatrethree.com
By Reginald Rose, Adapted by Sherman L. Sergel, Directed by Bradlee E. Bing, Scenic Design by Randall Parsons, Costume Design by Teresa Matteson, Lighting Design by Robert W. Henderson, Jr., Stage Management by Melissa Troxler
Starring Joseph Cavagnet, Leonard DeLorenzo, Jack Green, John McNamara, Steven Uihlein, Jim Pearsall, Michael Newman, Steve Ayle, Jules Jacobs, Gene Durney, David Altman, Michael Mingoia, and Alan Schelp