Monday, May 23, 2011

Luke's Reviews: 12 Angry Jurors

So one of the reasons I made this was to review/promote shows that are playing in the local area.  This is my first attempt.  On Saturday, I had the pleasure of seeing Portfolio Drama Company's production of "12 Angry Jurors.

Now, I've never seen a show I didn't like, so I can't be very critical of the show.  I did quite enjoy it.

          For those of you who haven't guessed, it was basically the script of the popular play "Twelve Angry Men" with a few differences.  Because of the lack of teen-age guys willing to do comunity theater, many of the jurors were turned to women (which I think added a bit).  Another difference between the original show and Portfolio's production was the addition of three roles (another common problem for community theaters).  The roles of the Clerk, the Judge, and the Balif were all added to the show.  For the most part the balif had a minimal role (I felt kind of bad for her the entire show) and the Judge and Clerk spent the majority of the show discussing the exact same points as the jurors in parallel time.  This made it slightly confusing, but definately added another dimention to the show.  It disrupted the flow of the show a bit, which I personally didn't like, but I can see how some people may have been bored with the same twelve people in the same room talking about very similar scenes.  All in all, the concept asside, it was beautifully executed and the actors did a fantastic job with it.

          It certainly appeared to be a very difficult show to do, because practically the entire cast (except for poor Maggie Roth) was on stage for the entire show.  It's also difficult because when so many people are talking about much the same thing, cues are INCREDIBLY difficult, and add-libbing can completely ruin the show.  However, these kids pulled it off brilliantly.  Another reason this show was hard was it's stage layout.  Since the set was basically just a table with 12 chairs around it, there were always 3-4 people who's back was inevitably to the audience.  I didn't realize the importance of this until I saw the slightly awkward body movements of the actors sitting in those unfortunate positions.  However, the distraction was minimal (if I wasn't an actor myself I probably wouldn't have caught it) and it didn't really take away from the show. 

       Notes on the entire cast:  The actors did a good job with staying natural.  Getting up to drink some water, remembering to act really hot (The show takes place in the summer, so it was hot in the room), and various groans and coughs helped to add to the believability of the show. There were a few a few inevitable blunders.  A few of the students had awkward lines, or spoke to fast, or tried *too* hard to speak slowly or something like that, but for the most part the show went really well.  I couldn't catch any flubbed lines, and they all stayed in character the entire time.

     Notes on specific actors:  Although what made this show great was it's overall cast performance, there were a few actors who stood out.

  • The first of these was Andrew M. who played Juror #3.  He had one of the bigger roles and did a fantastic job with it.  I was surprised that he landed the role that he did, because in the movie (which has the same script) the role was a gruff violent type man. However, Andrew was a tall skinny guy with kind of a high...almost whiny voice.  However, it worked masterfully! I honestly like that version of the character better because it shows (as the character does later in the show) that he's not really strong, just loud mouthed.  His outburst at the end of Act I was (for me) the highlight of the show.  Unfortunately, the other jurors were a bit quick to grab him (you could tell it was coming), but aside from that it was simply epic.  His consistency of character even with changing emotions made him really fun to watch.  In short, he had a captivating performance.
  • My next recognition goes to Jonathan B who played Juror #9.  I was disappointed that his role wasn't larger, because he was one of the best actors of the group.  I have actually seen him in six or seven shows now (what can I say...I'm a stalker) and he never fails to impress me.  His character (the kind old guy) was perfect.  The subtleties of his performance really made all the scenes he was in.  His slight stoop as he walked, and the way his face moved during the pauses in his lines.  He was definitely (out of the cast) the most in tune with his character.  My "research" has shown him to be a fantastic actor in both comedic and (in my opinion even more so in) dramatic roles.  Congratulations Jonathan, that was superb!
  • Other actors did a fantastic job, but just couldn't be seen as much.  Robert B. (#10) did an excellent job in his role. The scene in Act II where the rest of the Jury steps away was fantastic, he didn't have many lines, but he did an excellent job with those he did.  Sarah Pamplin (#8) also did a fantastic job.  She was a bit understated at times, but when she had a good monologue (she got a few) she really shone.  I have also seen her in a few shows, and I have learned that she has quite a range she can play. This wasn't the best role of hers (only because "Sorry...Wrong Number" was breathtaking) but she was fantastic.  Unfortunately there are other roles that I'd like to recognize...but I can't remember their juror numbers :P  one of them (I think five) who played the business woman in the glasses is one that stood out as a talented young lady.  She did excellent.
On the whole, what made the show great was the stellar ensemble, the show isn't made for one person to shine but for a strong group of actors to play off of each other and that was done very well.  Congratulations Portfolio on another fantastic show.  I can't wait to see more!

*Note: on June 12th, be sure to tune into CBS to watch The TONY awards (Like the Oscars but for Broadway  although there are a few disappointing nominations (or lack there of), it promises to be an exciting night.

No comments:

Post a Comment