Those looking for a better example of how divergent opinions come to agreement than has been seen in recent public debate will find refreshment at the Waldo Theatre, where “Twelve Angry Jurors” has its concluding performances this weekend.

Yes, this is indeed “Twelve Angry Men” with a few women tossed in the mix, a conceit that works just fine although it dilutes the title a bit. The Theater of the Spirit production at the Waldo is not quite as balanced age-wise as it could be but has a nicely varied bunch of characters played by, for the most part, faces familiar to local theatergoers.

Some of those faces are obscured for much of the proceedings, which is too bad; when they poke their heads up or stroll the stage, you can see they’re working it. The fact most of the action takes place around a table reflects that Reginald’s Rose’s award-winning drama originally was written for the small scene rather than the stage — and the Waldo’s stage is pretty shallow, so I’m not sure a split table or platform wedge would work there.

The set has the right look for “Midcounty Superior Court,” with Institutional Green painted walls hung with a couple of framed presidents. A window on stage left is well lit and disagreement over whether it should be open or closed helps clue us in to the time and place: a long hot day in Chicago. The standard-issue chairs also are “right” in their annoying scraping sounds, though that realism I could’ve done without opening night as it sometimes covered lines.

Director Gene Thomas has cast his “Jurors” well and we picked up on their personalities quickly. Denis Walsh, playing the juror who is, at first, the only one in favor of acquittal, set himself apart immediately by standing over by the window while everyone else took their seats and complained about the heat (we in the audience, meanwhile, were freezing; something wrong with the furnace, I’m told). Tom Kirkham, as a racially prejudiced juror, employed some strategic sneezing to signal his viral attitude. Dale Smith put his well-honed stage bluster to work as a quick-to-convict juror. Sunny Kirkham, as an immigrant juror, made for a passionate truth-seeker. Geary Smith, as the foreman, was longsuffering Dad, wearily but consistently trying to keep everyone focused and fair.

Part of the enjoyment of this well-written script is its depiction of human foibles and strengths, surprisingly revealed at times in ways that drew chuckles and enlightened “ahs” from the audience. Some of the chuckles were elicited by Waldo manager Melissa Hearth, whose character’s attention to her watch’s second hand was both amusing and important to the proceedings. Others came from Daniel True’s juror, whose rolling eyes and gum-chawing expressed believable exasperation.

A couple of characters revealed themselves slowly, putting them in the “ah” camp. John Price’s elderly juror didn’t speak often but when he did, it mattered. Michael Rowe drew our interest, although I found him hard to see, as his slum-raised juror slowly raised himself up and into the fray when his street smarts turn out to have value in this setting. Bill Glendinning and Donna McClure projected businessperson sense into the proceedings, while Phyllis McQuaide’s juror spoke for those confused about how the system works.

“Twelve Angry Jurors” presents an argument that the system does work, even for a ghetto kid with bad legal representation. The play is often credited with being a good civics lesson and I think that’s true, especially for young people unfamiliar with the jury system. And there’s a do-it-yourself spirit that helps turn the lesson into theater. If you’re not clear on what Reasonable Doubt is after spending an hour and a half in this jury room, you haven’t been paying attention.

The opening night audience did pay attention, thanks to the good script and good stuff worked up among the jurors. When the entire room literally turns away from Tom Kirkham’s character’s hate speech; when they all get excited at re-enacting key bits of evidence; when Smith’s bull-headed juror comes this close to running into Walsh’s wall of calm, the production lives up to its Theater of the Spirit billing. The evening’s final moment is a tricky one; kudos to Smith and Walsh for pulling it off.

Final performances of “Twelve Angry Jurors,” produced by Carol Dunning and Ginny Berry, will be Friday and Saturday, March 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Waldo, Main Street/Route 220. Tickets are $12, available in advance at Waltz Pharmacy in Waldoboro and Maine Coast Book Shop in Damariscotta; or by calling 832-6060.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to