The Rep Calls for Jury Duty

February 12, 2008 at 9:26 pm | Posted in Review, Theater | 1 Comment
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I went to the St. Louis Rep with high expectations, since Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose happens to be one of my most favorite plays, second perhaps only to Hamlet. And the famous film version starring Henry Fonda also happens to be one of my favorite films.  For those not familiar with the story, the entire show takes place inside a jury room as the jurors deliberate the verdict of a murder case involving a 16-year old kid accused of stabbing his father in the chest. What seems to be an open-shut case turns out to be a bit more complicated when one juror stands alone in doubting the boy’s guilt.

It is hard to tell what makes this show so fascinating and enjoyable. Is it the sleuthing, worthy of Sherlock Holmes or CSI? Or is it the psychological drama which so poignantly reveals human nature at its best, worst, and hardest to pin down? Perhaps its the brilliant and natural dialogue which effortlessly and efficiently presents us with 12 unique characters, not 12 caricatures. Either way, this show is taut enough to keep you interested, but its intensity varies enough so as not to leave you exhausted. It will leave you impressed and thinking hard about justice, doubt, prejudice and the deception of appearances.

So, as I said, I had some pretty high expectations. And I am happy to say that for the most part, The St. Louis Rep’s production met those expectations. The set was just right – a drab and ordinary jury room, without ornamentation or distraction, made for the perfect blank canvas. Kudos need to go to the director as well for the astounding choreography needed for this show. Maneuvering twelve men around the stage in a way that is both natural and fluid and fits with the dialogue is no small feat. However, most of the credit goes to the actors who all did a superb job in bringing these characters to life; with the exception, that is, of Juror #8, played by Jeff Talbot. It is unfortunate that the most pivotal character of the play was the least convincing; Talbot’s acting style was stiff and unnatural. He never seemed to actually ground himself in the action, but instead remained above it – reciting memorized lines and gesturing dramatically rather than genuinely interacting with his fellow jurors. Too bad. The rest of the actors were just wonderful, most notably Steve Brady as the bigoted Juror #10, Richmond Hoxie as the logical Juror #4, Dane Knell as the elderly Juror #9, Jerry Vogel as the German-American Juror #11 and Gary Wayne Barker as the prim Juror #2.

Twelve Angry Men, presented by The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, runs now through March 2, 2008 at the Loretto-Hilton Center.


1 Comment

  1. Just came across this guy listing valid ways to get out of jury duty. It might be “unconstitutional” but it can’t help to know!! ;-)

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