Complex themes well captured by young cast
“It takes a great deal of courage to stand alone even if you believe in something very strongly.”
The Elizabeth Moir School staged its latest production, Reginald Rose’s ‘12 Angry Jurors’ directed by Anushka Senanayake on March 3 and 4 at the Lionel Wendt theatre.
Following the closing arguments in a murder trial of a 19-year-old accused of killing his father, 12 members of a jury must deliberate on his innocence or guilt, a guilty verdict meaning death for the defendant.
As the 12 men and women attempt to reach a unanimous decision while sequestered in a room, one juror stands alone expressing doubt over several elements of the case. Personal histories are soon revealed, and mounting tension and conflict threatens to derail the delicate process that will decide the man’s fate. The details of the case are re-examined as the jurors deliberate and grapple with the difficult questions of justice, fairness and the burden of proof.
The cast of students from Form 1 to Lower 6 of Elizabeth Moir School comprising Chanduli Rubasinghe, Hathim Asgerally, Sulaari Stuart, Rumi Nagpal, Avlok Wignaraja, Clement Deane, Yexin Shi, Kyle Wijetunge, Aayuka Panditharatne, Aneeqah Muhsin, Khaya Umagiliya, Anuki Basnayake, Aneeqa Irishad and Leo Galapitage delivered a powerful performance.
Director Anushka Senanayake explained that she was drawn to select this play due to its timeliness and relevance given the abundance of cases in the news recently of murder, abuse, discrimination and more. “The concept of justice and fairness is one that is at the forefront of most conversations,” she says, adding, “Justice systems around the world are being called into question with ordinary citizens becoming increasingly active in demanding change and fairness. This play explores these difficult questions.”
The set was minimal, and the costumes were understated, both lending to the performance-driven production. Entirely set in a gray, nondescript room, furnished with only a table and 12 chairs, a single fluorescent light overhead which would flicker and flash with a rapid strobing effect amid booming crescendos amplifying scenes of high tension and transition between Act One and Two. Most of the ‘colour’ and vibrancy came from the performances. The Jurors varied greatly in personality, economic and educational background and ethnicity, making for compelling clashes throughout the play yet presenting a well-rounded and cohesive group performance.
A standout was Chanduli Rubasinghe’s Juror No. 8, whose keen observation and shrewd questioning starts to erode the adamant certainty of her peers. It’s through her relentless efforts that the facts begin to emerge, and her fellow jurors gradually open their eyes to the truth. Measured, levelheaded and passionate, she was unwavering in the face of her initially dubious fellow jurors, the most vehement of them being Hathim Asgerally’s Juror No. 3, another standout.
For almost the entirety of the play, Juror No. 3 towered over Juror No. 8 emanating intimidating energy before his temper reached fever pitch. Yet Hathim also managed to capture another side of the hot-headed character when he discussed his son whom he hadn’t spoken to in years, and the unresolved anguish over this loss.
As a school play dealing with complex themes, Elizabeth Moir School’s production displayed admirable levels of young talent.
Searching for an ideal partner? Find your soul mate on Hitad.lk, Sri Lanka's favourite marriage proposals page. With Hitad.lk matrimonial advertisements you have access to thousands of ads from potential suitors who are looking for someone just like you.