Recently, the Experimental Theatre Hall at Shilpakala Academy was filled with an audience eager to watch the 12th show of 12 Angry Men. It is a Bengali production by Open Space Theatre, which launched in early 2017.
Since their very first installment, this production team has been selling out tickets, attracting spectators of all ages to experience the adaptation of the classic 1957 film by Reginald Rose. The story revolves around twelve jury members, who sit in a humid room and try to argue and negotiate their way to a verdict on a man convicted of murder.
Once the show started, the auspicious lighting and carefully coordinated sound production paved the way for the first act. From the very beginning, the immersive quality of story-telling felt captivating as the actors delivered each line with acute diligence and theatrics. Every character had its own unique quirks and styles that brought the play to life. The audience was equally inquisitive as the actors pulled us into their world, creating a unique atmosphere for anyone who enjoys theatre.
During the climatic moments, the actors delivered strong emotions of rage, frustration and subtle comic relief, and the audience reciprocated accordingly.
Near the end of the show, the lights began to dim after the jury finally reached a conclusion about the fate of the convict. As jury number eight stood by a propped up window under a dim blue light by the end of the play, I could feel the tears welling up my chest, and my hands were waiting to clap as loudly they could.
After a standing ovation from the audience, the entire production team came up to the stage and answered people's questions about the play and generously accepted their feedback. “We hope to see new audiences for each of our future shows and help rejuvenate the culture of people coming to watch theatre performances,” said the director M Arifur Rahman, who also played one of the leading roles in the play.