Theater Info for the Washington DC region

McLean High School Twelve Angry Jurors

By • May 2nd, 2010 • Category: Cappies

Twelve Angry Jurors is a version of the famous play Twelve Angry Men, that is based on the 1954 teleplay written by Reginald Rose. The play is most well known for the 1957 film version starring Henry Fonda and directed by Sidney Lumet. It is a play that speaks to themes of integrity, bigotry, and the true meaning of justice, and was performed last weekend at McLean High School.

The production centers around twelve jurors who are chosen to decide the fate of a young man accused of killing his father. The case is all but decided for eleven of the twelve jurors, but one, Juror 8 (Vanessa Bretas) believes the case is not as simple as it seems and insists on discussing the case with the other varied characters that make up the jury. 

McLean High School’s unique performance had the audience sitting on the stage, which helped create an intimate setting. The twelve jurors anchored the show, and were each played as dynamic individuals with fierce characterization. The cast’s dramatic and intense interpretation of the piece created an enthralling experience for the viewers.

Vanessa Bretas played the only not guilty vote, Juror 8, with a strong commitment to character. She commanded the audience’s attention as she took on a difficult role, which she tackled with aplomb. Matt Higginbotham’s Juror 3 was the most intense portrayal in the production. His monologues were jarring and emotional. 

In strict contrast was Elliot Duffy as Juror 11, a foreigner who also serves on the jury. Spot-on comedic timing and delivery, as well as a believable, impressive accent marked his performance. In addition, Duffy had a notable understanding of the text and delivered his lines with subtext that was sometimes lacking in the overly dramatic performances exhibited by some of the other actors.

Julia Katz as Juror 10, a member of the jury who harbors bigoted views, was also impressive. Her performance was marked by striking beat changes and subtlety along with big, dramatic monologues. In addition, she was one of the few characters who seemed motivated by the intense heat, an important part of the show overlooked by many in the cast.

Of the technical aspects, most noteworthy was a Jackson Pollack inspired painting in the wall of the set that doubled as a scrim through which the audience could see the testimony of witnesses during the trial (as the testimony was being discussed in the jury room). The sound also added to the show, though at times was a bit distracting. The set (Martin Zavala) and props (Jamie Richardson) helped give the show its intimate setting, while also reflecting time the period of the play, even to the smallest of details. 

Twelve Angry Jurors is a difficult play, intended to be a piece that is both thought provoking and entertaining – a task that McLean High School’s cast and crew tackled with considerable skill.

Caleb Wroblewski of Washington-Lee High School.

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