Twelve Angry Jurors by the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, PA
April 25th, 2017
Review submitted by Trinity Pike of Upper Merion Area High School
One man is dead. The life of another is at stake. When twelve individuals decide the verdict of a homicide case, can justice truly be served? In The Baldwin School’s production of Twelve Angry Jurors, simple affirmation evaporates into haunting doubt, making the deliberation evolve into something more nuanced than guilty or not guilty.
The alleged crime is that a young man killed his abusive father. At first, eleven jurors vote for the death sentence, leaving one to plead for a more thorough consideration. As the argument intensifies, the play illuminates the justice system’s multifaceted nature. While Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Jurors has occurred in numerous iterations, Baldwin’s dramaturgy team added a refreshing modern analysis that differentiated their performance from the 1954 teleplay, 1957 film, and Broadway version.
Creative additions including a stimulating quote board and introductory political video combined with cast excellence to deliver a fascinating social commentary. Within the unique theatre-in-the-round orientation, actors were placed in a claustrophobic circle that conveyed tension while leaving each actor exposed to the audience. Yet no fear or hesitation was perceptible in the uninterrupted ninty-minute span of the performance. Excellence in characterization imbued the show with an organic feel, detailed and consistent throughout.
Aloof but not indifferent, Sanjana Friedman’s portrayal of Juror 8 possessed an intriguing depth. Friedman began quietly detached, gazing out the window away from the others. Then, she revealed a powerful determination fueled by intellect, delivering loud, decisive words with a menacing glare an inch away from the face of Melia Hagino, Juror 3. Convinced in the guilt of the accused and angered by the opposition, Hagino responded with wild rants and visceral screams that were genuine rather than exaggerated.
While line delivery was excellent, body language was also expressive. From Hagino’s cross-armed smirks to Kit Conklin’s (Juror 2) indecisive trembling to Jane Bradley’s (Juror 10) incessant sniffling and pacing, the actors continued to develop their personas and setting even when the attention was not on them. Audrey Senior’s (Juror 7) perky, passive-aggressive quips added some humor to balance the drama. Katie Mostek’s (Juror 9) slow movements combined with wise remarks to portray old age. Ishana S. (Juror 4) and Jattu Fahnbulleh (Juror 11) also provided voices of reason, professional yet charged with emotion. As a whole, the cast interacted effectively to establish the distance and intimacy of the twelve strangers forced to integrate their most personal views into one decision.
The technical aspects retained the simplicity of an office setting, but the vision of the dramaturgy team, which included Carly McIntosh, Julia Maenza, Roya Alidjani, and Noor Bowman, rendered even basic elements more profound with their interpretation and revision of the original script. Actors developed their characters with mannerisms at the water cooler or refreshments table. White lighting flashed to red at ominous moments.
Overall, the innovative efforts of Baldwin’s cast and crew created a masterpiece. Their production delivered a compelling reminder of the importance of courage and integrity.
Review submitted by Anji Cooper of Academy of the New Church
Innocent until proven guilty. There is a boy on trial for the murder of his father, and he is guilty beyond reasonable doubt… Or is he? Baldwin High School presents this problem in a way that will put you on the edge of your seat, while also exploring what it really means to live in democracy.
Twelve Angry Jurors was first seen as a television show called Twelve Angry Men, written by Reginald Rose. It follows a jury, after a long, hot trial, deciding whether or not a ninteen-year-old boy is guilty. Tempers flare as eleven jurors attempt to convince the one dissenter of the boy’s guilt, for American law states that the vote must be unanimous. After a reexamination, new uncertainties come to light, causing some of the eleven to rethink the situation.
Baldwin’s production combined two scripts, Twelve Angry Men and Twelve Angry Women, to create a unique, contemporary adaptation of the play. Performing the show in the round, the enthralling, impassioned cast brought new life to the courtroom thriller.
Sanjana Friedman portrayed the ever stoic Juror 8, the only one to doubt the boy’s guilt. Her impassioned, yet calmly delivered lines were enough to convince both the audience and the other jurors that there was sufficient reasonable doubt to keep the boy from being condemned. She kept the audience enraptured with her strong stage presence.
The cast impressed by staying completely in character for the duration of the show, even when they did not have dialogue. Juror 7 (Audrey Senior) especially stood out. She delivered her lines with quick animation and provided entertainment through her cheerfully condescending conduct. Juror 4 (Ishana S.) presented the logical argument against Juror 8 as to why the boy must be guilty. While others reached points of high emotion, Juror 4 maintained her composure. Jane Bradley proved her dedication to the role of the sick Juror 10 by constantly sniffling and fanning herself.
The production’s costumes aided particularly well in setting up each individual juror’s character before the show even began. Positioning the audience around the actors established a varying perspective, although at times it became difficult to hear some lines from certain angles. Still, the quality of the show was hardly impacted because the actors’ enriched performances filled the gaps.
With its talented cast, the Baldwin School created a new and riveting take on the play, Twelve Angry Jurors, that left its audience with a renewed sense of democracy in action.