By David L. MUNNELL
There are few pieces of American drama written in the 1950s that still hold up in today’s society. We like to think we’ve come so far as to eschew what we have come to perceive as “a simpler time,” but “Twelve Angry Men,” written in 1957 by Reginald Rose, proves this is not the case.
With its socio-economical and racial undertones, the play still resonates within the fabric of American ideals. If anyone reading this has never heard of this play, I urge you to read it immediately. Or better yet, go see Salem Community Theater’s current production.
“Twelve Angry Men” is a courtroom drama — or rather — a behind-the-scenes look at what happens when the jurors deliberate. In this case, 12 men are tasked with deciding whether a young man is guilty of killing his father.
In the beginning, the case seems pretty cut-and-dried, but as the facts are slowly and systematically examined, we find not all is as it seems.
The show at Salem Community Theater, however, is as professional as it seems. I could tell immediately as I sat down how much thought and creativity went into all aspects of the production. From the small details of the set design to the preshow courtroom hits of the ’50s such as the “Perry Mason” theme, it is obvious that director Terri Wilkes and the production team truly wanted to make an atmosphere to remember. And it works. The audience was enthralled from beginning to end.
The acting also is top-notch. It’s difficult to speak of any one actor onstage as this is the epitome of an ensemble piece.
From Eric Kibler’s calm, rational demeanor to Tim McGinley’s crescendo of rage, no actor is left behind in this production. The level of excellence brought by the veteran actors serves to elevate the performances of the inexperienced performers. I can’t think of such fantastic synergy in recent memory.
As fantastic as the show is, the only gripe I had was the lack of diversity in the cast, which tends to undercut some of the themes presented by the play. However, that can be forgiven due to the stellar performances.
Salem Community Theater’s production of “Twelve Angry Men” is an engaging experience everyone must see. The production runs through Saturday with shows at 2 p.m. today and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
For tickets and more information, call 330-332-9688.