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Arts & Entertainment, etc.

'12 Angry Men,' one happy audience

April 4, 2008
I usually save reviews for my print column. (See the latest here.

But since “12 Angry Men,” running through Sunday at the Murat Theatre is so good — and, for us, so unique — I felt attention should be paid here.

The courtroom drama is one of those shows that might lead cynics to ask “Why bother?” After all, it’s already a staple in community theaters and high schools, it doesn’t have the flash that audiences have come to expect from big-ticket touring shows, and even to the uninitiated, it’s pretty clear from the get go where the story is going.

But the Roundabout Theatre’s production brushes all of that aside within minutes, pulling audiences in with crystal clear, compelling performances, an ideal, realistic set and crisp direction. Every moment in the show matters and the commitment of all involved is palpable. The result is stage entertainment of a high order.

You can feel the ache in the stomach of Richard Thomas who plays the (initially) lone holdout juror. But you also get a clear look into the souls of 11 others, wrestling with their consciences, their prejudices and their prides. Knowing the conclusion only makes the tension generated even more impressive.

The only downside is the knowledge that there aren’t more such shows barnstorming the country. It would be great to have at least one a season.

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