No one can say that the actors associated with The Show Must Go Online Productions shirk jury duty. Neither does their audience. Director Eric Raymond took them inside the deliberation room for a firsthand view of some intense drama. Your correspondent alternated between thrills and anxiousness when summoned to the proceedings on August 8th.
In keeping with modern social distancing requirements, the show took place via Zoom. Technical issues can always present challenges for online productions. For this one, your correspondent experienced a few of his own. Due to a computer glitch, he couldn’t receive sound for the show’s first half hour.
To quote Paul Schafer’s character from The Return of Spinal Tap: “It’s funny how the business does a thing.” Your correspondent’s not hearing the significant details of the murder may have made the show even more entertaining. The lack of information gave the story a structure comparable to a Columbo mystery.
According to literatureessaysamples.com:
Twelve Angry Men is an allegorical play written in 1955. It depicts the way in which economic, social and cultural factors can have a significant impact on the process of justice. Rose encapsulates 1950s America through each of the 12 jurors, giving them back-stories relating to economic, social and cultural factors.
The Show Must Go Online Productions presented an upgraded version for the twenty first century. The jurors included female performers.
The play involved twelve unnamed jurors deliberating a murder case. The evidence presented in court showed that the defendant killed his father. Juror 8 (played by Phyllis Josephson) had reservations. Whereas the other jurors rushed to convict, she explained why reasonable doubt existed.
The format recalled Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit. That play premiered 11 years prior to Mr. Rose’s. Mr. Sartre’s show set three characters who didn’t like one another in a room they couldn’t flee. Mr. Rose’s script placed twelve distinct personalities into a comparable. This staging allowed for ample conflict.
The main conflict occurred between Ms. Josephson’s Juror 8 and Sam Dressler’s Juror 3. The two performers played these roles so credibly, one felt glad the actors weren’t in the same room together.
Phyllis Josephson played the detached of the two characters. Juror 8 processed the evidence as an objective observer. Ms. Josephson delivered her lines in a calm, yet assured fashion. She spoke with flawless enunciation that augmented her character’s credibility. Ms. Josephson’s performance accentuated Juror 8’s intelligent reasoning. The performer also added the use of visual aids to her already extensive repertoire.
Sam Dressler’s character, however, possessed the personality of a basketball coach. As Mr. Dressler performed from his own home, one can understand why he would opt not to throw towels or chairs. Even though limited by only having a head shot visible to the audience, he expressed frustration through his well-chosen mannerisms and disgusted facial expressions. His strong voice broadcasted the character’s shouting.
Mr. Dressler maintained this level of intensity all evening. No doubt, his realistic performance made some members of the audience feel relief that the show took place virtually; especially, when he handled the knife. Somehow, Mr. Dressler managed to amplify the emotional intensity at the end of the show. The performer executed the challenging task of crying on cue.
The performers brought their characters’ unique traits to the cybersphere. Drew Musto played the Foreman like a referee. Juror 2 (Alyssa Wiltbank) served as the de facto time keeper. Lisa Croce did a very fine job playing Juror 10 as a “very fine person.” Regina Deavitt made Juror 4 the analytical and detail-oriented member of the group. As Juror 11, Angela Robb delivered an outstanding assessment of the importance of one’s civic duty. Her use of a foreign accent to do so made the point more powerful.
Performer Katie Sillitti selected an exceptional backdrop for Juror 7. Ms. Sillitti performed in front of the scene of a jury deliberation room.
The following performers appeared in the cast.
Foreman: Drew Musto
Juror 2: Alyssa Wiltbank
Judge/Juror 3: Sam Dressler
Juror 4: Regina Deavitt
Clerk/Juror 5: Jeff Parsons
Juror 6: Deanna Daugherty
Juror 7: Katie Sillitti
Juror 8: Phyllis Josephson
Guard/Juror 9: Eric Raymond
Juror 10: Lisa Croce
Juror 11: Angela Robb
Juror 12: Nancy Reeves
Although it premiered 65 years ago, Twelve Angry Jurors remains relevant. As to whether that will change, the jury is still out on that one.