Friday, 10 May 2013

Backstage presents 12 Angry Jurors at Ductac

12 Angry Jurors

I am so busy, soooooo busy, and there is a lot of catching up to do. I am going to start with Theatre and what is on RIGHT NOW.
Yup, you can hurry on down to Mall of the Emirates,  pop into DUCTAC's Kilachand Studio and get tickets for 12 Angry Jurors. 4 shows left today and tomorrow (10 and 11 May ) at 2.30pm & 7.30pm.


Disclaimer: A good supportive wife would warn you that she was biased in favour of a show when her spouse is  involved in the show. I have to warn you that if my spouse is in a show (and he is in this one) I am hyper critical. I know it is so, so mean of me. I am working on this aspect of my character and will give a fair and balanced review without starting  off from a nit picking nagging wife point of view.  My husband plays Juror # 3. The most important part in the whole play (and the centre of the universe) he is magnificent on stage and off and you all have to go and see the show because he is in it. Fair and balanced enough?
The Blurb: "A 16-year-old boy stands trial for having stabbed and killed his father. Twelve people from different backgrounds and personalities are brought together to form a jury. The guilt or innocence of the boy, beyond a reasonable doubt, lies in the hands of the twelve jurors. Will their verdict lead to death sentence?"
The Background of the Original Screenplay: The story is steeped in peoples attitudes to issues of racism and prejudice and judging people by cultural stereotypes. The screenplay was produced in the 1954, the same year that the supreme court of the USA outlawed  segregation in public schools . It took ten years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned segregation in the workplace and public accommodation. In the 1950's racism was legally supported and socially acceptable. Nowadays being a racist is clearly understood to be wrong, is socially unacceptable  and legally unsupportable.  In the 1950's women were very much the homemakers and still lived in the shadow of their husbands in a patriarchal society. People were expected to grow up and get married and make a "nuclear family". Anything outside of that was somehow wrong or bad. This story comes loaded with a heavy burden of responsibility to show  the prejudices of the day together with the buttoned up aggression of the "White Male" fighting for his traditionally accepted place in a world that was shifting and slipping away from them. Women and "People of Colour" were increasingly raising their voices in protest after an age of  white male dominance. 12 Angry Men.
How can  you take this heavy subject and present it in  a multi-cultural  and mixed sex production? 12 Angry Jurors. Well go and watch the play to find out how it is done.
My Take: You may have gathered that I felt this to be an ambitious undertaking. The script is unforgiving and relies heavily on characterisation by the actors, careful pace setting by the director and  mood creation by the set and lighting designers.
Director Rashmi Kotriwala and her cast presented a sensitive, appropriately interpreted production.  The roles taken up by female characters where cleverly interwoven into the story in such a way that it was perfectly natural to have them there. The cast worked well together. The actors understood their characters and were comfortable in their roles allowing the audience to enjoy the unfolding drama.
 Bryan Mackenzie (Juror 3) and Teresa Lundgren ( Juror 8)  who play the central  opposing points of view in the play worked well together. Teresa is convincing as the reluctant dissenting voice and takes the audience through the issues in the story with a sincere subtle performance. Bryan, playing the angriest man has the audience disliking him yet feeling empathy towards him. Not easy to do, so well done you. I loved that all twelve jurors, no matter how few lines they had in the play, came across as distinct characters without drawings attention to themselves inappropriately. When actors were not acting they were engaged in the action on the stage. It is difficult to focus when you don't have something to say. The temptation to over act reactions is an ever present danger particularly is a close, small, space such as this stage. This did not happen - the focus through out the production was were it should be. 

A special mention must go to Aroushi Beauty Salon and Spa for the hair and make up. What a treat to be in an amateur theatre production in Dubai  and be able to make genuine criticism of the hair styling. All the ladies hair was just right for the era. I really appreciated the effort made by Backstage to get the hair right. THANK YOU. It is the attention to details that makes my theatre lovers heart sing. My criticism? I would not have given Juror 8 bangs. She is a grown up woman from the 1950's. Bangs were for girls. Oh and I would have combed down Juror 5 hair. It was a bit too modern. NIT PICKING but you have given me the opportunity  to be able to do this -which is wonderful. The costumes were also spot on. I did think that all the male jurors should have had plain shirts. In the 1950's no one would have appeared in court in a checked / patterned shirt. But that is my take on it and did not in anyway detract from the production. Just me being fussy about the fashions of the times and the setting. And my bug bear, pantyhose on stage for women always. Juror 2 played by Widaad Pangarker looked the part from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. I loved her costuming.
I have another bug bear to go with my pantyhose thing  - about the length of a play. Again this is a very personal thing. If a play runs to two hours it is too long. I think that as a matter of course a director should go through a script and ask themselves what they can cut. And then cut it. The first half of the show was a bit too much. There was stuff in the script that did not add to the characters or the story and really was not needed.
Lilyan Tannous  gave a delightful performance as a ditsy advertising gal. Arjun Burman, as the foreman, had exactly the right nervy trying to please and trying to get it rightness to his part. Honestly all the actors had great characters set down.  I enjoyed all the performances. It was lovely to see a large cast have such character without being overwhelming. My nag is to do with line delivery. Actors cannot be thinking their lines. It is not enough to know the lines. When an actor is  thinking about  his or her lines as the lines are being said ( all other things being equal) it makes the difference between  a good  performance and great performance. 
The set worked well. When I saw the set I wondered how the cast was going to move around the set in a convincing manner. The blocking was well done. The cues to move were natural and made sense. The use of the areas of the stage was good and allowed for natural groupings that just worked. Well done.
I do think that more could have been done with lighting. The play builds up in tension. The script offers up a brilliant device in the form  of the weather. It is hot and a storm is brewing and breaks. More should have been done with this parallel to the story line development. We knew there was a storm brewing but we could not see it.  I would have liked lighting as the play progressed to shown this. The storm breaking needed more than the sound of rain. It needed lighting effects to compliment the heavy mood on the stage. The lack of this does not detract from the production. I just think it could have added to it.
12 Angry Jurors is another solid production from Backstage.  I had a lovely night out and went to home on a high. There are not many performances so change your plans and get down to the theatre.
This production is Backstage's 40th  show in its three and a half year history. That is quite a feat all on its own. Backstage are adventurous  in their production choices, committed  to progress and  absolutely worth supporting.

Mingling cast and audience after the show.

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Promo from The National

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