Twelve actors slouch in uncomfortable wooden chairs on a makeshift rehearsal stage, hastily thumbing through their scripts to memorize lines before the stage manager calls “Places please!”
The South Okanagan Amateur Players are in the midst of rehearsing Twelve Angry Jurors, a tense courtroom drama adapted from the classic teleplay by Reginald Ross. Tickets are on sale now for the November production.
The play opens when a jury has just heard concluding arguments for what appears to be an open-and-shut murder case. Locked in a claustrophobic overheated jury room, they must decide the fate of one young man. Tempers mount to a tense climax as each juror is challenged to look at the facts without prejudice.
Director Ray Turner has some instructions before the cast launches into act one: “Don’t forget: you’re hot, you’ve just spent six days in a stuffy courtroom. You don’t want to debate this murder case, you want to get home. Let’s see that on your faces,” he exhorts.
Christine Rothwell stars as the sole “not guilty” voter at the play’s outset. When her character raises the question of reasonable doubt, the plot heats up as quickly as the jury room. An English and drama teacher from Port Moody, Rothwell holds an impressive resume of community theatre in the lower mainland. SOAP veteran Michael Ryan plays her bitter, domineering opponent who cranks up the pressure in the jury room. Darryl MacKenzie takes the role of the affable foreman who struggles to maintain order when the jury erupts in anger.
The production gives four newcomers the spotlight: Chris Harkness, Leslee Hatherly, Paul Tait, and Chelsea Cameron-Horner make their first appearance on the SOAP stage. Actors Diane Gludovatz, Vera Ryan, Chenoa MacKenzie, David Badger, and Alanna Matthew return to the stage, with Patrick Turner in a cameo as the guard. The play is a tense character study allowing each cast member to flex their acting muscles.
Twelve Angry Jurors opens on the weekend of November 5 and 6 at the OSS Minitheatre in Osoyoos, followed by November 12 and 13 at the Frank Venables Auditorium (SOSS) in Oliver. The curtain rises at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 adults and $12 seniors and students, available at Sundance Video (Oliver) and Your Dollar Store with More (Osoyoos). For more information, call 250-498-3597 or email SOAP@telus.net
Produced by special arrangement with THE DRAMATIC PUBLISHING COMPANY of Woodstock, Illinois.