I think it’s weird that the play starts out by listing the jurors and their personalities. I guess I’ve never seen that in a play where the actors don’t get to decide how to play a character while staying within the confines of the story, the character’s lines, etc. That’s what makes Shakespeare so versatile. The characters are judged by the lines they say, but how they are delivered can vary so much from performance to performance.
Just reading this, I wasn’t impressed. Yeah, I get that in the end, we learn that you shouldn’t convict someone of murder just based on them coming from a bad neighborhood or looking a certain way, which is very relevant in this day and age. I understood that it was a powerful story and I was supposed to be affected, that it was a big deal when they were able to punch holes in the story and it really developed the idea of reasonable doubt. They shouldn’t have convicted him based on the evidence presented, but I was still left with the feeling that actually, the kid was guilty!
I then watched the movie, which does a FANTASTIC job of fleshing out the characters a lot more (especially the guy with the picture of his son). I would highly recommend the movie over the text, because it rounds out the characters and makes them more three-dimensional. I wonder, though, why they chose to show the defendant in the movie when in the play it states clearly that the defendant is not to be seen by the audience?
Watch the movie.