Twelve Angry Men | City Guide 2008 Resource Guide | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
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Twelve Angry Men 

At Stage 62, everybody gets a chance to shine

The program for the Stage 62 production of Twelve Angry Men reads "adapted by Sherman Sergel from the television movie [emphasis added] by Reginald Rose." Sigh. I am part of the ancien régime that was taught to recognize television theater as its own art form. (Seriously; I studied this and other teleplays in high school, obviously in some prehistoric era.) Yes, children, at one time there was the promise that "the vast wasteland" could present legitimate drama in a new medium — with the immediacy of live theater and the change of POV afforded by multiple cameras.

Lit lesson over. This American classic (or warhorse) was born in 1954 on Westinghouse Studio One, a TV showcase that launched the careers of many writers and even more actors. Adaptations include not only the Oscar-winning 1957 movie but also various theatrical interpretations (with and without women) from 1956 on, and versions in Germany, Russia and India, among others. In Carnegie, Cara Walkowiak directs a Stage 62 production with high marks for verisimilitude and the intimacy of the library's Studio space on the lower level.

The play, in whatever guise, needs a balanced ensemble of 12 who can create distinctive (though unnamed) characters while marching over the dramatic arc in real time. At Stage 62, everybody gets a chance to shine, especially Matthew Wolf as the sympathetic naturalized citizen and J.P. Welsh, unabashedly unsympathetic as the loudmouth bigot. Joe Macerelli is physical as the guilt-ridden father and last holdout, but Douglas "D.W." Hadley seems cold as the juror pushing reasonable doubt (a.k.a. "the Henry Fonda role").

Also notable are Jon Handel as a go-along guy who learns to make his own decisions; Matthew J. Rush as the take-command master-of-the-universe type; and Alan Solter as the voice of wisdom.

After nearly 60 years, Twelve Angry Men can creak a little, but this tribute to the American jury system still has some luster.

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