On the heels of a recent ‘whodunnit’ murder mystery, members of Athens Community Theater will be asking a different question with their current production, “Is he/she guilty?” The audience will get to be the judge as it watches the deliberations and shenanigans of the 12 un-jury-worthy jurors who have been selected to decide the fate of an alleged catnapper.
“12 Incompetent Jurors” by Ian McWethy is a fast-moving, character-driven comedic play that parodies the famous courtroom drama “12 Angry Men.” ACT’s production, will be staged July 15-17, at the Quonset Hut Theater, 132 N. Capital Avenue in Athens, under the direction of husband and wife team Brad and Linda Kenyon.
Although Brad Kenyon has directed several plays at Quonset Hut, this is the Michigan directorial debut for Linda, who hadn’t sat in the director’s chair since the family moved to Athens from Indiana several years ago. She enjoys encouraging cast members to use their own creativity to differentiate their character from the rest.
“It sometimes gets a little frustrating during rehearsals because both Brad and I are playing one of the jurors in addition to directing the show,” said Linda. She finds herself making mental notes about what the cast is doing at the same time as delivering her own lines, which can be tricky.
“It’s pretty hard to see what’s going on up on the stage when you are up on the stage in the middle of the action,” adds Brad. The structure of the play and flow of the lines helps to determine the staging, so that has been helpful. But at times it’s like herding cats because it’s so fluid.
Neither of the Kenyons has seen the play performed elsewhere, which frees them to put their own, uninfluenced stamp upon it. They have tweaked the dialogue slightly to ensure it remains family-friendly for audiences.
Another factor in the Kenyons’ favor is that they are directing a veteran cast that includes two other members of their family, and with the exception of newcomer Greg Barnes, they have previously worked on other shows with the rest of the cast of “12 Incompetent Jurors.”
For Barnes, performing in a play was a bucket-list item; however, he stepped right into a huge part and is nailing it. Linda said she’s pleased with how well he fits in with the other performers, “There’s some great chemistry emerging from the characters the cast members are carving out for themselves.” She thinks theatergoers should plan to start having a good time and to laugh out loud as soon as they enter the theater, “Laughter is good for the soul and we need a break from all the real world baloney.”
The “12 Incompetent Jurors” cast includes Linda Kenyon, Allie Price, Shannon Kenyon, Seth Fick, Brad Kenyon, Roseann Kenyon, Tabitha Deeren, Greg Barnes, Emma Tennyson, Kati Woodward, Carrie Wing and Samantha Fick. Abbie Zech is serving as line prompter and stagehand, while Mark Doubleday is working the soundboard and lights.
According to Brad Kenyon, the play reminds us that no matter what discussion or deliberation we find ourselves in, we always filter subjects through our own experience. That gets played out in a very stark and hilarious way through the course of the play.
The last show at the Quonset Hut Theater played to full houses. The cast is hoping turnout will be equally strong for “12 Incompetent Jurors.”
Admission will be by donation, with shows at 7 p.m. Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16; and a 4 p.m. matinee on Sunday, July 17. Sarah Jordan-Grubb will be on hand with popcorn, beverages and other concessions. Reserved seating is not required.