Mrs K and I went up to Noblesville to catch opening night of The Belfry’s production of Twelve Angry Men, the great courtroom drama by Reginald Rose. This production was directed by Karla Ries and as in all her plays the action was sharp, tight and on a great set. Having acted in the play several years ago myself (playing #3 in the Spotlight Players production) I felt I had a very good idea of what I would be seeing – but both my wife and I were in for a surprise. If you attended the Spotlight show in 2008, you too will be surprised to see a very different script being presented here. The major plot points and character types are all there but some of the in-depth studies of the clues, texture information about the characters and very much of the final resolution are changed or just missing.

I learned in the lobby afterward that there are indeed several versions of the play available and that the one we saw at The Belfry was just a briefer telling of the drama.

That said, the play was still very enjoyable and there were several outstanding performances and certainly no bad ones. Standouts included Duane Letterman as a pragmatic Juror #4, Gavin Rulon as a doubting Juror #8 and Clay Mabbitt as an angry #3.

Daniel Shock is very effective as he recreates his role of #7 from the aforementioned 2008 production and Bruce Bubenzer is steadying as the Jury Foreman in his overdue return to a Central Indiana stage (welcome back, Bruce!) All the others do a fine job with their parts, especially Ryan Shelton as the bigoted #10. Added to this cast was Brad Miller as the Accused, who appeared in a cell-like set piece at the back of the room, unseen by the jurors, but present for the audience’s view. I applaud Ms Ries’ imaginative addition to the play but I think it had only limited success – it was certainly impactful at the very beginning of the play when he was the only presence on stage – but the impact waned once the action started, then revived at the very end with a brief tableau with one last juror and one final look before blackout.

The set by Ms. Ries and Michael Ries was smartly rendered with a black and silver room and furnishings. Stark except for the apt painting of Justice on the back wall, it was functional and official looking. Costumes by Shelly Griffin were very 1950s and hair design by Sharon Graham fit that motif well.

It was, all in all a very worthwhile evening and although I liked the extended details of the 2008 version, I found the 2012 effort to be very satisfying. Twelve Angry Men continues at The Belfry in Noblesville on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through April 29th. For resevations call (317) 773-1085 or go to http://www.thebelfrytheatre.com

Duane Leatherman as Juror #4

Clay Mabbitt as Juror #3

Gavin Rulon as Juror #8

Advertisements