A rea­son­able ren­di­tion

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - SHOWS -

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

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