Deliberate speed 

Intimate space bodes well in Twelve Angry Men

Class Act Theatre exercised some sound judgment in choosing to stage the legal chestnut Twelve Angry Men. The new theater occupies a tiny storefront playhouse on the same Marietta block as Theatre in the Square. The intimate environment snugly suits Reginald Rose's jury drama, giving the audience, seated on folding chairs "in the round," the sense of being confined in the juror room along with the cast. When the play's arguments heat up, at times you're tempted to throw in your 2 cents as well.The simplicity of Twelve Angry Men also proves fitting for a fledgling theater with limited resources and some unpolished actors. The no-frills efficiency of Rose's construction and his plain, emblematic characterizations make it a relatively "easy" staging that carries its own momentum. Mostly brisk and involving, the story explores the tensions of jury deliberations when Juror Eight (Brian Turner) stands alone to argue reasonable doubt in a racially fraught homicide case that appears air-tight.

Despite the many discussions as to whether witness testimony holds up, Twelve Angry Men commands more interest for the ebb and flow of group dynamics, in which the men change or defend opinions not solely on the strength of evidence, but by their own feelings about Eight's integrity and the prejudices they carry with them. Fans of the "reality" TV shows "Survivor" and "Big Brother" will enjoy the jury's shifting factions.

The key players are generally solid, notably Turner as schoolteacherish Juror Eight, Chet Anekwe as imposingly learned Juror Four, and, despite his over-the-top tantrums, Tony Binaco as uncouth Juror Three. Some of the other actors are prone to awkwardly flying off the handle and barking at each other, perhaps taking the "Angry" of the title a little too literally.

Twelve Angry Men plays through Sept. 2 at Class Act Theatre, 6 Powder Springs St., Marietta, with performances at 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. $10-12. 770-579-3156.

GARDENHOUSE DANCE COMPANY Mowing, a new outdoor dance piece by choreographer Nicole Livieratos using urban landscapes and a non-motorized mower to re-create the familiar in unfamiliar ways. Sat. Aug. 19-Sept. 9 at West End Park, 111 Oak St.; Sun. Aug. 20-Sept. 10 at Sunken Garden Park, 1000 East Rock Springs; Fri. Sept. 8-22 at Woodruff Park, Peachtree St. and Auburn Ave. Fri. 12:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 7 p.m. 404-870-0117.

performs a free summer concert featuring saxophonist Lawrence Gwozdz. The program includes works by Strauss, Sousa, Gershwin and more. Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St., Roswell. Aug. 27. 2:30 p.m. 404-237-9711.

Theater: Openings
The Polk Street Players present the farce by Ray Cooney at the Stellar Cellar Theater, St. James Episcopal Church, 121 Church St., Marietta. Aug. 25-26, Sept. 1-2 and 8-10. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2:15 p.m. $5-$12. 770-218-9669.

SOUL POSSESSED Alliance Theatre Company presents a dance/drama written, directed and choreographed by Debbie Allen telling the story of a passionate yet tragic love set in the hot cultural mix of the Louisiana bayou. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. Aug. 24-Sept. 24. Tues.-Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. 2:30 and 8 p.m., Sun. 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. $16-$45. 404-733-5000.

VINCENT VAN GOGH: LETTERS TO THEO The free performance features an actor in character reading Vincent's letters to his brother. Fritzi Gallery, Fine Art Int'l, 281 West Wieuca Road. Aug. 24-25. 7:30 p.m. 404-252-1717.

WEEKEND COMEDY A comedy about two couples who mistakenly rent the same cabin for the same weekend. Startime Dinner Theatre, 608 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell. Aug. 26-Oct. 7. Fri.-Sat. 6:30-8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. $14-$39.50. 770-924-3220.

Theater: Continuing
Noble Productions of Roswell presents four free open-air performances of Shakespeare's classic tale of love and mayhem. Roswell Town Square and Heart of Roswell Park. Through Aug. 26. Sat. 8:30 p.m. 770-641-7922.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM The New American Shakespeare Tavern presents Shakespeare's tale about mischievous fairies and a night full of magic, chaos and love. Runs in repertory with Twelfth Night and As You Like It. 499 Peachtree St. Aug. 4, 13, 18 and 26. Fri.-Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun. 6:30 p.m. $10-$15. 404-874-5299.

ARSENIC AND OLD LACE Cobb Players present the comedy about family madness and a glass of homemade elderberry wine laced with arsenic. The Little General/Cobb Community Playhouse, 2060 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta. Through Aug. 26. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m. $2-$14. 770-565-4784.

AS YOU LIKE IT The New American Shakespeare Tavern presents Shakespeare's tale about assassination plots, forest hideaways, mistaken identities and weddings. Runs in repertory with Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night's Dream. 499 Peachtree St. Aug. 6, 12, 20 and 25. Fri.-Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun. 6:30 p.m. $10-$15. 404-874-5299.

THE DYING GAUL Actor's Express presents Craig Lucas' tale of sexual politics, seduction and treachery set against a sexy, fast-paced backdrop of modern technology. King Plow Arts Center, 887 Marietta St. Through Sept. 2. Thurs.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 7 p.m. $20-25. 404-607-SHOW.



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