Don’t tell Mike Schulz, but I have never actually seen the 1957 classic film “12 Angry Men,” nor its 1997 all-star made-for-TV remake.

I have no good reason, since I love murder mysteries, crime dramas, thrillers, etc. In a way, that was an advantage going into see the new Playcrafters production, “12 Angry Jurors,” which opened last weekend at the Barn Theatre, 4950 35th Ave., Moline.

Schulz – an amazing writer, actor and director whose opinions on film and theater I respect more than just about anyone – helms the new stage version. And it’s mesmerizing from start to finish.

The dramatic, emotional play is called “12 Angry Jurors” because the jury is comprised of half women. Schulz’s version also is set in the stiflingly hot summer of 1972. The talented Circa ’21 costume designer Bradley Jensen (among an absolute all-star cast and crew) is right on in reflecting the time period – 50 years ago (already?).

Cole McFarren, left, Mark Garden and Michael Hernandez in “12 Angry Jurors.”

In the story (by Reginald Rose, adapted for the stage by Sherman L. Sergel), the trial of a 19-year-old man for the fatal stabbing of his father has just concluded. It looks like an open-and-shut case; that is until one of the jurors takes a look at the facts in a new way. Evidence is re-examined, tempers get short, and arguments grow heated as issues become personal, with each juror revealing his or her own character.

As the witness testimonies are re-examined, the murder is re-enacted and a new threat of violence breaks out, all in the pursuit of what is truth and what’s the right thing to do.

Schulz has said that the original 1957 film (“12 Angry Men”) is one of his all-time favorites, and he saw the Playcrafters version (with all men) in 2008. In the program, he wrote you can enjoy it as “gritty social commentary; as a pointed reminder of the perils of group-think,” or as a “witty ‘Odd Couple’ comedy with a baker’s dozen of temperamentally mismatched roommates.”

The top-notch Playcrafters cast features Charles Thomas Budan, Michael Hernandez, Kitty Israel, Mark Garden, Jackie Skiles, Chris White, Jessica White, Kendall Burnett, Cole McFarren, Noah Stivers, Jane Watson, Mattie Gelaude and Shyan DeVoss.

Mattie Gelaude, left, Charles Thomas Budan, Kitty Israel and Kendall Burnett.

While it’s literally an ensemble cast, with no true stars, the real “Odd Couple” and standouts here are Budan – a Pleasant Valley High senior who’s already racked up an impressive acting resume, and Garden – a middle-aged man who is making his theater debut.

The long-haired Budan (who was Romeo in this summer’s Genesius Guild “Romeo and Juliet”) is the influential Juror #8, who is the lone “not guilty” verdict after the first jury vote is taken near the start of the play. He is the intensely passionate conscience of the group and raises key questions about evidence and witnesses, that end up changing minds.

In a current political climate when everyone’s opinion seems to be set in stone, it is refreshing to witness the prosecution of such persuasiveness and even more, to see those arguments bear rational fruit.

Clockwise around table (from lower left) are Shyan DeVoss, Mark Garden, Jackie Skiles, Cole McFarren, Michael Hernandez, Mattie Gelaude, Charles Thomas Budan, Kendall Burnett, Jessica White and Kitty Israel.

The hardest mind to change belongs to Juror #3 (everyone is referred to by number, not a name), who Mark Garden embodies with titanic, terrifying force. He and Budan showcase bitter divisions and their pitched, thunderous battle reaches its apex at the end of the first act. They later re-enact the stabbing and debate what angle the knife went in.

Among the female cast members, QC theater veterans Kitty Israel, Jackie Skiles and Jessica White make the biggest impressions. Israel (who plays an immigrant, sounds Russian) gets at the meaning of being American.

She says her parents came to this country to have the right to disagree, to speak their mind, and to hold an unpopular opinion — the sacred freedom of speech. “12 Angry Jurors” worships not only the right to have that unpopular opinion (and reasonable doubt), but to act strictly based on facts and evidence.

Another great thing about this show is its spare, stark nature. The set (dressed by Schulz, Isabel Dawson and Alex Richardson) is about as bare bones as you can get — a long table and 12 chairs, surrounded by darkness. Richardson (a prolific playwright, director and producer) also focuses on the jury with unforgiving fluorescent lighting (two long, bright lights are hung from the ceiling).

That naturally trains our attention where it should be — on these terrifically talented actors, their transfixing dialogue and interplay. Richardson here is the lighting and props designer.

Performances continue at 7:30 p.m. this Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets (only $15, $13 for military and seniors) are available HERE or by calling 309-762-0330 to make a reservation. Tickets will also be for sale at the door (while available).