(*Disclosure: I was given press tickets in exchange for this review.)
What happens when you have to bring together 6 Caucasian men, 6 African-American men, to a court room as jurors to decide if a 16-year-old boy is guilty of murder, with many of the evidence simply made because of the geographic area & the boys background?
Simple. 12 Angry Men.
The classic 1957 teleplay written by the late, great Reginald Rose is being brought to life currently at one of the best gems for the performing arts in LA, The Pasadena Playhouse. With a groundbreaking cast, it seems like a natural fit to have 12 males of mixed ethnic backgrounds breathe new world into the story.
We’re introduced to the jurors tired, annoyed & simply ready to agree GUILTY that a young man from the mean streets of New York killed his Father late one night that the boy swears he was at the movies. Witnesses hearing screams, the boy unable to recall the name of the film he saw, weapons present as clear proof, would make one assume this is a cut & dried case….
But, maybe not. When Juror Eight (the multi-talented stage & screen actor, Jason George)begins as the lone Juror to say NOT GUILTY. Heated discussions begin & the audience is taken on an incredible ride with a glimpse into prejudice & just why some of the men have it so in for a young man they do not even know.
Not only is 12 Angry Men dramatic theatre at its finest, but it certainly can resonate at many dilemmas we as a nation continue to face today. And while Angry may be in the title, the audience appeared to be anything but. They all seemed to be amazed at the abilities of the cast & moved by the powerful message throughout the story. We were fortunate enough to be in attendance for the post Q & A, & when Director, Sheldon Epps, posed the questions: Did you think the defendant was White, Black, Latino? Did you think he was guilty?
What do you think?
12 Angry Men plays through December 1st at The Pasadena Playhouse. Tickets are selling fast so book yours now by visiting the web-site.
(*Disclosure: I work often with The Pasadena Playhouse & am so thankful for these opportunities to see such wonderful live theatre!)