Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

12 Angry Men And A Busy Weekend On Tap

The PopCulteer
February 5, 2010

If The Play Fits, You Must Acquit

The Kanawha Players stage adaptation of Reginald Rose’s 1954 teleplay, “12 Angry Men,” is a brisk, robust retelling that shows off an impressive cast of some of Charleston’s top actors. This evergreen courtroom drama provides a look into the deliberative process as a jury in 1954 struggles to come to a verdict in a murder trial.

12 Jurors, locked in a hot room on a summer’s day, must decide whether a young man is guilty of murder. The first vote finds eleven of them think he’s guilty, but one juror thinks he might not be. We witness the deliberative process, as more of the jurors find their belief in a guilty verdict shaken.

The characters have no names in Rose’s play, only their juror numbers. But we do get to see clearly delineated characters develop over the course of the play, and the cast does a fine job bringing the subtleties of their respective jurors to life.

Kevin Pauley shines as the one man at the beginning who has reasonable doubt. His calm, restrained performance sets the stage for the slow conversion of his fellow jurors, who initially believe the case to be open-and-shut.

WCHS TV’s Kennie Bass gives an exceptionally believable performance as the racist juror whose outburst late in the play is so ugly that it turns the tide of the deliberations. The entire cast does an impressive job maintaining character even when they aren’t the focal point at the moment.

Bob Martin, in particular always comes across strongly as his Ad Man character, even when he’s silently reacting to actions across the stage. Rick Fleenor plays the role of referee as the foreman, and conveys a keen sense of reluctance and frustration.

John Lohman keeps a cool head as the most reasonable among the “guilty” hold outs. His character keeps the play from being predictable. Ric Bertolotti is convincing as the immigrant juror, who seems to appreciate the American justice system more than his native-born colleagues. John Halstead and Michael Harris play small, but important parts in the narrative, and they hold character very well, even when they’re just in the background. Larry Baker is earnest as the first juror to change his mind.

This is the main stage directorial debut of Tara Pauley, who has spearheaded a production that is quite lively and doesn’t get bogged down by having 12 characters on stage throughout most of the play. The action, though confined to one room for the entire play, never feels claustrophobic. The director has really managed to bring the best out of her actors.

Four of those actors may be familiar to audiences as members of the comedic Improv troupe, The No Pants Players. Kevin Pauley, along with Tony Slack, Jeff Bukovinsky and Stuart Frazier prove that they are equally adept at drama as they are with comedy. Each of them play key parts at different moments in the play.

Tony Slack portrays his character warts and all, as a stubborn man with a questionable grasp on human relations. His personal life spills out in several outbursts, and explains his bias. Slack’s performance is a revelation.

Stuart Frazier plays the lone black juror on a racially-charged trial. His interaction with the more racist jurors is indicative of the times, and very well-played.

Jeff Bukovinsky’s juror starts out as the lively, happy fellow, but he demonstrates an ability to reason, and eventually comes to change his mind. Bukovinsky’s well-rounded performance creates a character that is both believable and likable.

In this post-OJ era, it’s easy to forget how novel the idea of reasonable doubt can be. When Rose’s teleplay originally aired, there was more of an air of mystery about courtroom proceedings. Now it’s old hat for TV and movies, but seeing this drama brought to life in the flesh, on stage, drives home just how important the basic protections of the United State’s Constitution can be. KP’s production of “12 Angry Men,” in addition to being an evening of fine drama, is a welcome reminder of what is so special about our judicial system.

This production of “12 Angry Men” is presented in memory of Terry Marchal. Photos by Bob Bird.

If You Go: Kanawha Players presents “12 Angry Men” February 5,6,12 and 13 at 8 p.m. And February 7 at 2 p.m. At The Kanawha Players Theater, 309 Beauregard Street, Charleston. Tickets are $16 for adults, $10 for students. Special dinner packages are available on February 12 and 13. Call (304) 343-7529.

A Big Announcement

Every Episode of Radio Free Charleston is now online at our archive site. That’s over 26 hours of local music, animation, art and film. If the music scene in this town is as dead as some people insist on claiming, could you please explain how I’ve managed to fill 92 episodes of RFC, with no end in sight?

The shows are not in order, but you can find them by visiting the RFCTVArchive Myspace page. Just click on “View Videos.” Our next major undertaking will be to create an independent website where you can find all the shows indexed, with links to the production notes and any webpages that belong to the contributors.

And to think we owe it all to last week’s nasty Winter storm. Finding myself snowed in, I began remastering, encoding and posting the missing shows from the archives. I posted eighteen episodes right here in PopCult, and since the weekend I’ve posted the remaining eighteen shows to the archive site.

So…go make ’em go viral, already.

A Busy Weekend, Threatened By Snow

Barring another nasty Winter storm, there’s tons of cool things going on this weekend.

In addition to “12 Angry Men,” fans of theater still have two more chances to see the CYAC production of Bertholt Brecht’s “Galileo” 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at The WVSU Capitol Center Theater. See my review here.

Lady D presents her one-woman show, “The Lady And The Empress,” her tribute to Bessie Smith, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. At The Woman’s Club of Charleston, 1600 Virginia St. East. I’ve seen a sample of Lady D (a guest on RFC) as Bessie Smith, and it is incredible. $25 gets you a buffet dinner and the show, where Lady D will be backed by her band, Mission.

Friday night at The Empty Glass, Black Diamond performs before the Midnight movie Charleston premiere of Eamon Hardiman’s latest movie, “Porkchop.” Admission is probably five dollars.

Saturday Night the All-Vinyl Dance Party fund raiser for Manna Meal takes place. Rescheduled from last week, this dance party with DJs Mark Davis and John Nelson kicks off at at St. John’s Episcopal Church. $20 gets you in the door and buys two drinks and tapas foods. A silent art auction is being held in conjunction with the party. I have work in it–go pay tons of money for it so that poor people can eat.

Cool Comic Of The Week

Set in the same universe as his “Irredeemable,” Mark Waid’s new series tells the flip side of the story. In “Irredeemable” (a cool comic pick here) Waid relates the story of what happens when the most beloved good guy superhero in the world goes nuts and starts killing people indiscriminately.

“Incorruptible” shows what happens when one of the worst bad guys in the universe, faced with a world terrorized by a madman, becomes a crusader for the forces of good. Max Damage, the most infamous super-powered villain of that same world where “Irredeemable” is set, has a change of purpose. Accompanied by his female, teen aged sidekick, “Jailbait,” Damage sets out to on the path of truth and righteousness.

This is the story of Max Damage, gone straight. The book is well-served by great art by Jean Diaz and Belardino Brabo. This is a great counter balance to the other title in this cool new universe.

This book is just starting, but it’s already digging deep into the sort of important moral issues that are best addressed in comic books about big muscled-up guys beating on each other.  This seems to be leading to a showdown, where an irredeemable force encounters an incorruptible object. I can’t wait.

Next Week In PopCult

Look for more classic RFC in our Sunday Evening Videos, and check back after Midnight for Monday Morning Art. There’s also a good chance that episode 93 of Radio Free Charleston will drop. You never know, so just keep checking out the Gazzblog that never gets mentioned on page two, PopCult.

1 Comment

  1. Elvis Capone

    I can hardly type this, because snow burst into my cabin and it’s wedged tightly up my taint area…

    …but I must contribute! 12 Angry Men sucks because: It’s in black and white. I suppose I should be curious as to how they pulled that off in a stage play, but I’m just mad about the whole thing. I suppose I’m an… angry men.

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