12 Angry Jurors by Jenkintown High School in Jenkintown, PA
March 14, 2018
Review submitted by Emily Serpico of Interboro High School
A powerful and gripping drama that covers the harsh reality of biases, stereotypes, and branding within society, 12 Angry Jurors follows a jury as they determine the fate of a young man standing trial for murder. It is through this debate that reason and prejudice meet head on. Jenkintown High School performed the moving play originally written by Reginald Rose in 1954 as a television play that went on to ultimately have a stage version by Sherman L. Sergel in 1955.
Within 12 Angry Jurors, tempers flare as the jury initially votes eleven to one in favor of the young man being guilty. The focus is placed on the lone individual (Juror #8) as a legally required unanimous vote by all twelve jurors is sought in order to pass judgement. As the eleven jurors try to persuade the independent Juror #8 to vote that the young man is guilty, evidence is reexamined and uncertainties are brought forth. Thus, the twelve jurors are forced to question whether there is reasonable doubt or not in regards to sparing the young man’s life. 12 Angry Jurors calls the morality and integrity of individuals into question as justice is sought.
A remarkable aspect of Jenkintown’s performance of 12 Angry Jurors was that it was student directed by Emily Dubin who had a remarkable eye for detail in not only casting but in her stage movements. There was not a single moment without a realistic element of life as those cast as jurors would bring aspects of everyday life into their every action. Be it getting water or asking a question to the person seated beside them, the actors under Dubin’s guidance brought their characters to life with some admittedly repetitive but necessary movements.
Juror #8, played by William Carter II, acted as the voice of reason and the protagonist of the play. His clear delivery of his lines and strong stage presence worked simultaneously as the catalyst of the entire play. While almost one-dimensional at times, Carter truly played the part of the outsider with incredible composure and moments of controlled emotion. Charles Mangan, who played Juror #3, gave a powerful performance as the consistently angry antagonist of the play. He was easily understood and seemed to have the emotional build-up and background of his character down perfectly. He acted with intense passion that left the audience silent on multiple occasions. Caitlin Frazee portrayed the wealthy Juror #4 with grace as well as clarity; her actions were elegant and she acted as the buffer between the aforementioned characters with certainty.
The set was simple and streamlined as well as designed by the previously mentioned Charles Mangan. While it did not draw attention from the jurors and the drama unfolding on stage, it felt as if there was no space for the actors to move around easily. However, the suspending windows and overall layout were functional and understated in that they provided the needed background but were not overwhelming.
Marielle Zakrzwski, who designed the costumes of the jurors, guards, as well as other characters, paid amazing attention to the varying intricacies of the actors and their characters. Along with her sophisticated style and individual notes of each juror’s personality, Zakrzwski used small changes in each actor’s appearance to display the overbearing heat of the summer day along with the stress and frustration of deliberation.
Jenkintown High School’s powerful performance of 12 Angry Jurors was one filled with unmatched passion and reality. It not only explored multiple facets of society, but it had multiple areas of character development and connection in regards to the actors. All characters were very well executed, although a few jurors seemed to fade into the background at times. Overall, it was a poignant production and a fantastic job by all involved!
Review submitted by Sarah Eckstein Indik of Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
A locked room, blistering heat, and passionate yelling? Sounds like a nightmare. But, in Jenkintown High School’s performance of 12 Angry Jurors, directed by Emily Dubin, the audience was on the edge of their seats begging for more.
Written in 1954 by Reginald Rose, the story of twelve jurors from a murder trial deliberation unfolds. The decision of sending a young teenager to a death sentence seems obvious to eleven jurors, but one juror, Juror #8, stands against them. Eagerly attempting to reach a unanimous vote, the jurors complain in the heat desperately trying to reach a consensus, even though prejudice and different beliefs divide them.
The performance was anchored by the amazing chemistry between the cast and the realism depicted by each individual juror.
Juror #8 (William Carter II), the naysayer, consistently portrayed the emotions his character was experiencing. By utilizing body movements and facial expressions, he allowed the audience to gain an understanding of his position. Despite disliking his character’s argument, the audience was drawn to the passion and anger that Juror #3 (Charlie Mangan), the antagonist, emanated. Mangan’s performance convinced the audience, with his portrayal of a range of emotions, and at times despite the drama, brought laughter.
As a whole, the group of jurors were charming; Constantly fidgeting and walking around, they accurately showed the reality of a jury room. However, three stand-out performances were that of Juror #7 (Mattie McNamara), Juror #4 (Caitlin Frazee), and Juror #2 (Sophie Pettit). In keeping with the sassiness of her character, McNamara chewed gum throughout the entire performance, capturing her character’s essence. Caitlin Frazee and Sophie Pettit served as buffers between the madness of the other jurors; in their own individual styles, they conveyed different ways humans deal with hard situations. At times, actors had difficulty with their lines because of nerves, but they persevered. Some actors appeared monotone in their acting, but the overall chemistry in the group made up for this.
The set, designed by Charlie Mangan, was simplistic — two big brown windows, a water station, and a large table with chairs — but it was nicely and creatively executed. Even though the actors did not use microphones, they could be heard easily. The costumes, designed by Marielle Zakrzwski, were consistent in representing each character in everyday attire.
Jenkintown High School was successful in tackling the difficult themes of prejudice, justice, and speaking up for what is right in 12 Angry Jurors. As the lights faded, the audience questioned how they can make a difference and speak up for what they believe in. Perceptions of others are merely perceptions, and Jenkintown High School’s production reiterated that fact.