Fauquier Community Theatre’s Production of “Twelve Angry Men” Relevant in Today’s World

Over 60 years since the first performance of  “Twelve Angry Men,” the struggle between the impartial application of justice and the poison of prejudice that clouds fair judgement in the court room, is as compelling today as it was then.  
 
The Fauquier Community Theatre’s production of the play by Reginald Rose (adapted for the stage by Sherman L. Sergel) drew the audience into the minds of 12 jurors who filtered their decision-making on the fate of a young man accused of murder, not only through the prism of their own prejudices and hatreds but ultimately by their sense of justice inspired by Juror #8. Giving life to a story within the confines of a jury room, the compelling actors captured the tensions between the jurors who are set to send a young man to his death and those who are searching for justice. Boiling over into a fiery physical confrontation, the story comes to a head as Juror #3, played by Greg Leggot uncontrollably lashes out at Juror #8, played by Liam Alee.  
 
It was clear that when Juror No. 10, played by Joel Saunders, announces at the outset of the deliberations, “You know the kind of people they are, you know them,” the stage is set for a rush to judgement based on the ethnicity of the young man accused. A judgement of “the other” had already been made before the jurors had entered the jury room, as Juror No. 3 in the lead was blinded by his hatred and prejudice which impeded his ability to make a reasonable decision. 
 
Juror No. 8 asked the critical question, “What does a guilty man look like? He is not guilty until we say he is guilty. Are we to vote on his face?” 
 
It was the comments of Juror #11 in the role of an immigrant with a foreign accent, powerfully played by Michael Mehaffey, that provided a moral compass for the deliberations.  “This is a remarkable thing about democracy. That we are—what is the word? . . . ah, notified! That we are notified by mail to come down to this place—and decide on the guilt or innocence of a man; of a man we have not known before. We have nothing to gain or lose by our verdict. This is one of the reasons why we are strong. We should not make it a personal thing.” 
 
How can you tell when you have attend a theatrical performance that it is a successful production. It is usually when you are totally absorbed in the play, and have lost complete track of time and place. Those of the older generation will remember the “Twelve Angry Men” 1957 popular film created by the great movie director Sidney Lumet. The film featured such great actors as Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb and Jack Klugman. 
 
This illustrious cast of the movie “Twelve Angry Men,” may lead those in the audience who remember this famous film, to make an initial comparison to the original cast. However, the cast of Fauquier Community Theater production, under the direction of Director Hannah Butler, was so convincing that any previous production was only a memory.
  
Artistic Director, Don Richardson, commented, “Good theatre forces you to look at yourself. We come with our own prejudices and preconceptions and it forces you to look at yourself.
 
It makes you laugh… but sometimes it’s a tension reliever. Theater makes you laugh and sometimes and it makes you think.” He added, “Here it is pretty clear what he [the author] is talking about. This is in New York, the kid could be Hispanic, the kid could be Puerto Rican….. If you want to update it, do a modern version of it, the kid could be a Muslim, they are all terrorists, they murder people.”
  
Fauquier Community Theatre is a great community resource where, according to Don Richardson, “people can come out and be creative, on stage and back stage. Our mission is to serve ordinary people.”