In the decades since its release, Reginald Rose‘s 12 Angry Men has become a landmark in cinema. The film brilliantly-explored crime, punishment and the factors that affect judgments. It’s, therefore, no surprise that it has since been adapted for many different mediums. Theatrecian, a theatre group from Kolkata, are the latest troupe to adapt the classic for the stage.
12 Angry Jurors follows a jury trying to decide whether or not a boy is guilty of killing his father. Any decision they arrive at must be unanimous, which is easier said than done. Though eleven of the members initially agree that the boy is guilty, the twelfth juror maintains that he is innocent. The remaining jurors scoff at him, but they slowly find that there might be some merit to Juror Number 8’s arguments. The play chronicles the conflicts and chaos created as the jury tries to reach a unanimous decision.
Through the members of the jury, the play manages to showcase a vast range of personalities. Each of these is written and portrayed in a way that makes them likeable. Even though some of the jurors aren’t supposed to be likeable, they are all realistic enough to intrigue viewers.
It also helps that they are all brought to life by talented actors from the Theatrecian group. Dhruv Mookerji, who plays Juror Number 8, is remarkable in his portrayal of the lone juror who believes in the boy’s innocence. Shadab Kamal of BA Pass fame is also magnificent as Juror Number 10. Aaron Targain also delivers a stand-out performance as one of the angry jurors.
12 Angry Jurors incorporates mime and kathak techniques. Instead of merely recounting the events, the play uses pantomime to give the audience details of the crime. Suvendu Mukhopadhyay adds a whole new dimension to the story as he beautifully depicts the crime that took place.
Bhagyashree Ghosh, the kathak artist, also does a wonderful job. However, she is underutilized, especially considering how much of an impression Ghosh makes in such a small part.
The dialogue is crisp and polished. Though it is wonderfully-written, there are still lines that feel unrealistic and over-dramatized.
Obviously, the play has its fair share of shortcomings, but these are easy to ignore in an otherwise stellar play. The acting, the dialogue and the music come together to intrigue viewers and keep them engaged. The minimalist approach to the set design, combined with the understated performances, make 12 Angry Jurors an entertaining and thrilling play.