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Twelve Angry Men Reginald Rose's souped-up theatrical version of his Emmy Award-winning 1954 TV drama packs quite an emotional punch in this broiling production at Theatre Southwest. Director Mimi Holloway and her acting gang overlay this seminal take on the American jurisprudence system with an abundance of dramatic juice. In many ways it beats the Broadway touring version seen here early last year, because the intimate space heightens the tensions by bringing us smack up against the action. The plot is classically simple. Twelve jurors must decide the fate of a young slum kid on trial for murder; if found guilty, the young man will die. The disparate characters, of all ages and from varying social and economic backgrounds, seem convinced at first of the "open and shut" nature of the case. One witness has placed the man at the crime scene; another actually saw him commit the murder; the motive's clear; the knife was found and identified. All that's needed is the conviction. They take a cursory vote. Juror #8 (Kurt Bauer) is the lone dissenter. He isn't convinced one way or the other of the boy's guilt, but the outcome is far too serious a matter not to discuss it — and for the next one and a half hours, the jurors battle for a fair and impartial trial. Prejudices, old scores, accusations and even parental conflicts get dredged up as the men grapple with the facts and reveal themselves. They put on quite a show, and the ensemble cast is terribly impressive, especially Bob Maddox as blowhard Juror #3, David Holloway as cut-and-dried Juror #4, John Ellsworth Phillips as poor but honorable Juror #5, Ken Vandervoort as sharp-eyed old coot Juror #9 and Robert Lowe as bigoted Juror #10. If you like courtroom dramas, here's the daddy of them all. Through May 3. 8944-A Clarkcrest, 713-661-9505. — DLG

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