Friday, May 04, 2007

Would you turn that ****ing phone off?

Georgia Today made a total hash of its weekly cultural calendar today, getting its days, dates, months and accompanying pictures all mixed up, with the result that I rushed to buy a ticket for 'Twelfth Night' and found myself in '12 Angry Men'. No, I was not angry!

Luckily I had decided to pay for the translation - just as well in a play so based on words. It was originally the 1957 film of that title (though wikipedia says it's a play adapted to a film), about 12 white men in a court house having to decide whether a young man has murdered his father. One is convinced that he is innocent, or at least that the case against him is weak, and that leads to a very long debate of the criminal case. It says in the blurb that the play examines the 'twelve men’s deep-seated personal prejudices, perceptual biases, weaknesses, ignorance and fears that threaten to taint their decision-making abilities, and cause them to ignore the real issues in the case, and potentially lead them to a miscarriage of justice'. I'm not sure about the deepseated prejudices (against, in the film, a Puerto Rican teenager); I did not really feel that they came out, though prejudices against people 'in the gutter' were heard. It's possible, of course, that the play was suitably adapted. Particularly in the case of Georgians who are the subject of fairly fierce racism themselves in places like Russia.

It's an amazing play - well-written and extremely well-paced. It did not hang once, and it was fascinating to watch how the group interactions developed. Of course, Sturua's direction helped to move it along extremely snazzily. I don't know how the jury act in the 1957 film - the only still I can find shows them sitting round a table - in this production there is not much sitting still! Inevitably there are the song and dance scenes, the coordinated stepping out, the young crazy guy (do all his plays deal with psychiatric illness?), people rushing all over the stage, the story of the train noise supported by most actors becoming a train... Even though it deals with the potential for someone's death, it still came out as quite a funny play as well (which perhaps is not the case in the original version?). I wonder if Sturua can produce anything unfunny?

It was a great evening out and I would go to see it again, though again with a translation....

Oh yes, the headline? That's what I said to the person behind me when she answered her phone for the third time during the play. It did not ring after that. The play had ended....