A reasonable rendition
DIRECTOR Heather Scott is throwing out time and place and letting the power of the story do the talking in Phoenix Ensemble’s contemporary re-imagining of the classic play Twelve Angry Men.
The award-winning drama, set in a jury room where 12 men must determine the guilt or innocence of a young man, explores themes of morality, conscience and human nature.
The play opens with the jury nearing a unanimous decision of guilty – until a dissenter sows the seeds of reasonable doubt.
Long aware of the American play, Scott says seeing Russian film 12, which won an Oscar for best foreign film, inspired her to tackle the story.
‘‘The performances were so captivating and I remember thinking how powerful this would be on the Phoenix stage,’’ she says.
‘‘It made me think how worthwhile it would be to tell the story in a contemporary setting and Phoenix is always willing to stretch boundaries.’’
Scott says the film showed location and era weren’t as important to Twelve Angry Men’s story as its themes and tensions.
‘‘Instead of setting it in the 1950s as written, we’ve decided that location and time are irrelevant to the power of the story,’’ she says.
‘‘So it has a contemporary feel, but isn’t set in a particular place or time. The story and themes are as relevant today as when it was written.
‘‘Prejudices against race and social status are still a common occurence and I think this play holds a mirror up to ourselves and might make us think twice about some of the decisions we make.’’
As its title suggests, Twelve Angry Men features an all-male cast.
‘‘There is a version of the script where some of the jurors are female but to be honest, I think it would totally change the dynamic and tension of the piece,’’ Scott says.
‘‘I was actually worried about casting the show. I thought it was going to be really difficult, but it turned out to be really easy. Having 12 strong male actors on stage is rare in community theatre and I was thrilled so many guys had heard about the show and were keen to be involved.
‘‘Two of them are lawyers and they will never be able to be on a real jury themselves, so they were really keen to delve into it on stage.’’ Scott has also adopted a fresh set design. ‘‘I’ve decided to get rid of anything that isn’t absolutely essential to help tell the story, which has really helped the actors express themselves more freely, allowing the audience to really see their different personalities and the personal struggles they face when making a decision that could send a young man to his death,’’ she says.
– JESSICA HUXLEY
Twelve Angry Men plays the Pavilion Theatre, at Beenleigh Showgrounds, Fridays and Saturdays at 7.30pm from tomorrow until August 17.
Twelve Angry Men.
The cast of Phoenix Ensemble’s season of the prizewinning drama