TWELVE ANGRY MEN Performed at Ohev Shalom in Richboro, PA

by Kevin Korowicki

The Temple Ohev Shalom staged the powerful Reginald Rose drama, TWELVE ANGRY MEN, in their community room/ social hall last weekend. It will play for another two performances, February 19th @ 8 PM and February 20th @ 2 PM. The theatre group, consisting only of members of the temple, performs dramas and musicals for the financial benefit of the temple and to provide social networking/interaction amongst its members. The temple’s performances, however, are open to the general public. The temple has been producing shows since 1998.

(From L to R:) Michael Schwartz, Ken Marblestone, Paul Waimberg, Len Rubin, Scott Adler, Barry Dratch, Barbara Kind Berman, and Bonnie Kapenstein, members of the cast of Temple Ohev Shalom's TWELVE ANGRY MEN, running in Richboro, PA through February 20.

“As a synagogue, we try to offer dramas that not only explore the human condition, but that can also provide a forum for thought about Jewish values,” says Producer Barbara Kind Berman. Directed by Eric Froberg, this drama came to life in front of a large, very appreciative audience on a sunny, winter Sunday afternoon, so much so, that they gave the cast (and crew) a standing ovation for their efforts.

Froberg cast three women in the play, therefore “twelve angry people” and there was much of that on display. If you recall the original teleplay with Henry Fonda leading the group of jurors, you realize that that particular director had it easier than a stage production. He could use camera angles and close ups to make dramatic points. This show was not really written for the live stage. The play takes place in a jury room and movement inside this room can be difficult and when done, could even look fake or “staged”. For those of you who have actually served on a jury, you know what I mean. It’s a non-descriptive, usually ugly looking four walls which almost make you feel that you yourself are inside a prison wall. I guess it’s designed to make you deliberate and not be comfortable so as to make your decision as quickly as possible.

The set of Ohev Shalom did just that. It wasn’t much to talk about. It isn’t supposed to be. It is supposed to be about the human interaction. Froberg did his best to make sure the drama played to the words, not so much as to actions. He blocked it well, giving actors a chance to move around in an uncomfortable setting. Thus, it was uncomfortable blocking. But, it is supposed to be. It is tough enough to interact with people you know, let alone total strangers deciding the fate of a man on trial for murder. Each character has his/her involvement with the case and his/her own evolution within themselves to determine guilt or innocence. I believe the cast of this show permitted me to be the 13th jury member; high praise. They acted within normal human responses and gestures; no one seemed to be overacting or trying to be someone else. Even though, at times, some of the words coming out of their mouths was vile and obscene, it served a purpose for the overall path of the play.

Ken Marblestone who plays the lone juror to stand up with a not guilty vote despite eleven others to the contrary, plays the character with solid, human emotion. He does not try to “play” Henry Fonda, which could have been a disaster. He just permitted himself to feel the words written and act on them. He would have convinced me to switch. The other members of the stellar cast include as the Guard, Jerry Gottesman, the other jury members: Len Rubin as Foreman, Scott Gordon as #2, Scott Adler as #3, Michael Schwartz as #4, Paul Waimberg as #5, Barry Dratch as #6, Neal Freedman as #7, Mitch Gerson as #9, Bonnie Kapenstein as #10, Ayala Rahimi as #11, Barbara Kind Berman as #12, and as the voice of the Judge; Sam Heller.

It was a pleasure to watch the show and to enjoy the hospitality of everyone involved with TWELVE ANGRY MEN.

by Reginald Rose
Directed by Eric Froberg
February 12 – 20, 2011
Temple Ohev Shalom of Bucks County
944 Second Street Pike
Richboro, PA 18954
(215) 322-9595

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