By Sarah Pride and Natalie Harris
Patrick Henry College
Senior Kaylyn Carlson called last week’s run of Twelve Angry Men a “perfect buffer” between last semester’s You Can’t Take it With You and Eden Troupe’s upcoming production of Leave it to Psmith, comedies both. Carlson is currently running rehearsals for Psmith, the second ET play of the semester(due for performances April 16-19).
Audience members attending the classic Twelve Angry Men (Feb. 20-23) seemed not only uniformly delighted by the gripping tale of murder and justice but also visibly affected by its palpable moments of dramatic tension.
Set in the 1950’s, Twelve Angry Men tells of twelve jurors who have to decide the fate of a young man accused of stabbing his father to death. The plot hinges on whether the jurors can reasonably doubt the boy’s guilt—a guilty verdict will send the teenager to his execution.
Throughout Eden Troupe’s presentation, each juror embodied a drama in miniature. Junior John Curry emanated quiet moral strength as Juror Eight, who single-handedly challenged his fellow jurors to seek justice rather than a quick verdict. Senior Caleb Jones, as the antagonist, vitriolic and bitter Juror Three, built tension until the play’s final moments, whether swinging a knife or shaking with passion.
Play director David Carver used a minimalist set consisting only of a large wooden table and a water cooler, allowing the audience to focus on the jurors themselves. And while Twelve Angry Men is divided into three acts, the drama flowed continuously with only brief breaks between acts, the pauses only heightening the audience’s response to the intensity on stage. Eden Troupe veterans rate Carver’s efforts alongside the best of the student-run drama group’s past repertoire.
Coming up next—something completely different, as Kaylyn Carlson directs P. G. Wodehouse’s comedy Leave it to Psmith with the help of producer Anne Corda, another senior. Psmith follows the foibles of a motley crew of British lords, poets, and young gentlemen of means, all of whom seem desperately intent on either wooing each other or thieving valuable diamonds.
Searching for words to summarize this zany work of literature, Carlson notes, “I was trying to think of a great, overarching principle, and I thought, the main reason I was attracted to this play was its unique characters and the idea of people being drawn together by laughter.”
Psmith’s cast, Carlson explains, mirrors in real life what happens in the play—Eden Troupe brings together diverse people who otherwise would not often cross paths socially. “I hope it gives us much more appreciation for each other,” she says.
Tickets for Leave it to Psmith are not yet on sale; they will be available in April. The play itself will run April 16-19, starting at 7:00 each evening.