A truth you can handle: A Few Good Men plays at Theatrikos
BY KATHLEEN KOMOS —
A Few Good Men is not just a movie. If it pleases the court, please note it was based on a play written by Aaron Sorkin, a play with as much tension and drama as the film.
When Lance Corporal Harold W. Dawson and Private First Class Louden Downey are convicted of the murder of Private First Class William T. Santiago, the case ends up on the desk of the self-assured, charming and slightly lazy lawyer Lieutenant Junior Grade Daniel A. Kaffee. Along with his simple but loyal friend Lieutenant Junior Grade Sam Weinberg and the fiery Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway, Kaffee discovers a story of intrigue and conspiracy underneath the deceivingly simple case.
Perhaps the single most problematic part of A Few Good Men is the names; there are quite a few Lieutenants and Captains to keep up with. After a while, it just becomes easier to surreptitiously take a glance at the program from time to time than to try and remember who is who. However, the engaging nature of the story makes up for any difficulty in recognizing character names.
The simple set complements the storyline. Photos placed on the walls alerted the audience to a change in scene. Outside of a few tables and chairs, imagination was required to put each location together. Spotlights that highlighted certain areas of the stage, which allowed for two locations to be present at once, made the fluid scene changes even more masterful.
A projector added an interesting element allowing for longer transitions and giving information to the audience about the U.S.’ relationship with Cuba at the time, along with some poignant quotes about the legal system. The cast and story took a bit of time to get into the groove, but once it picked up, it was smooth sailing onward. By the end of the play, the entire audience was on the edge of their seats. It was not a theater anymore; it was a courtroom, and everyone wanted to know how it would all end. It felt like everyone, even the characters, were holding their breaths when the verdict was announced.
Each actor was perfectly matched to the character they were portraying. Eric Shultz was a masterful Kaffee because his ease on the stage and confidence endeared the audience to his character. Kaffee’s opposite, the powerhouse Galloway, blew on stage like a redheaded hurricane. Kirsten Nelson, who performed the role of Galloway, was a tiny woman, unafraid to stand toe-to-toe with Colonel Nathan Jessup, the main antagonist. Christopher Crockett was Jessup, who will be best known to the audience for the line, “You can’t handle the truth!” Crockett, who essentially towered over the rest of the cast, instilled shivers in the audience every time he swaggered on stage.
Anyone looking for a humorous and intense show should go see A Few Good Men. Not only do handsome men yell at each other, there is a great deal of intrigue that adds a lovely complexity to the plot.
A Few Good Men runs until April 7 and ticket information can be found online at theatrikos.com.