Review: “12 angry men”
By Alan Blyth
Friday, November 30
Classic play done well, but topical add-ins subtract
A young man is accused of patricide and faces a mandatory death sentence if he is found guilty. The jury of twelve men have already spent six days deliberating this long and complex case. The room is hot and stuffy and many of the jurors want to finish the job and go home. Juror #7 (David Darchia) is particularly keen to get away because he has a ticket for a football match which he does not want to miss, so he calls for another quick vote to decide the fate of the Accused. For a moment it seems as though they have a unanimous “guilty” verdict, but as juror #7 says: “There’s always one that spoils it ” And the spoiler is juror #8 (Zurab Ingorokva) who decides to stand up for what he believes is justice and sets out courageously to bring the others round to his way of thinking.
Within a short time, juror #9 (David Papuashvili), who has been sitting quietly reading a book, decides to support juror #8. When asked to explain his decision, he calmly says: “This gentleman has been standing out alone against us. He doesn’t say that the boy is not guilty, he just isn’t sure. …… I want to hear more.” What follows is 90 minutes, or so, of engrossing drama as aspects of the case are discussed and logical conclusions are reached.
Robert Sturua and Revaz Chkhaidze, have done a good job in staging “Twelve Angry Men” at the Rustaveli Theatre, however some of the shine has been taken off by the recent inclusion of some unfortunate additional dialogue. When the jurors are talking about the Accused’s claim to have been at the cinema on the night his father was murdered, yet he can’t remember any thing about the movie he saw, one juror asks another: “If the police beat you up, would you remember every detail?” Before he can reply, another interjects: “Those whose job is to defend us, don’t beat us,” whereupon there is a chorus of “Oh yes they do!!” No doubt, this was an attempt to add a topical flavour to the show, but it failed miserably. It was a flawed analogy and it merely devalued the dialogue.
Most jury rooms, if not all, are functional and perhaps a little drab, however the set designed by Temur Ninua had some intriguing elements. For instance, there was a partial backdrop of a long table, of the sort used at feasts, which had platters and loves of bread on it. What was the message? And the effigy on the wall beside the door to the WC? These were unnecessary distractions when the aim should have been to keep everyone focused on the dialogue.
“Twelve Angry Men,” by the American playwright Reginald Rose, is a classic piece of theatrical drama revolving round the interaction between people, their personalities and their prejudices. It is a vibrant, fast-paced production with a strong cast and the arguments and counter arguments flow freely which lasts for only 100 minutes. It is staged periodically at the Rustaveli Theatre and if your Georgian is not up to scratch, catch it on a night when they offer a simultaneous English translation. The flaws in this show are few and it is well worth going to see.
It is a vibrant, fast-paced production with a strong cast in which the arguments and counter arguments flow freely . It lasts for only 100 minutes and is staged periodically at the Rustaveli Theatre. If your Georgian is not up to scratch, catch it on a night when they offer a simultaneous English translation courtesy of the British Council."