A Few Good Men Review - Justice Questioned

Renowned theater and television writer Aaron Sorkin has a knack for raising questions which have no clear-cut answers. A FEW GOOD MEN raises such questions – is cruelty and violence okay if it’s for the right reasons? Is the military exempt from some strongly-held American beliefs and values because the military protects all American beliefs and values? Or, for that matter, are other protectors of society’s safety (like police or fire fighters) exempt?

Zack Roosa, Travis Quentin, and Diego Aguirre - Photo by Andreas Lyon

Lt. Col. Nathan Jessup (Dennis Lavalle) is in charge of the Marine base at Guantanamo, Cuba, during the Cold War. The specter of warfare seems imminent, and Jessup feels hostile Cuban breath on the back of his neck every day.  Adding to his worries is the sudden death of Private Santiago, one of his troops who has been begging for a transfer for close to a year, citing unfair treatment and fear for his safety.

Travis Quentin, Zack Roosa, Bob Telford, and Sarmarie Klein - Photo by Andreas Lyon

Lance Cpl. Harold W. Dawson (Travis Quentin) and PFC Louden Downey (Zack Roosa), two members of his Marine unit, are accused of Santiago’s death and seem destined for life at Leavenworth – until Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway (Sarmarie Klein) begins to question the findings in the case. With the unwilling assistance of Lt. J.G. Daniel Kaffee (KC Clyde) and Lt. J.G. Sam Weinberg (Mike Lawson) – both of whom prefer a simple life uncluttered with complex cases – the trio go to Cuba to defend Dawson and Downey at the military tribunal. And to face-off with base commander Jessep, whose ego knows no bounds.

Mike Lawson, KC Clyde, and Sarmarie Klein - Photo by Andreas Lyon

Sorkin has amassed multiple issues into one gripping courtroom thriller which builds in intensity as time moves on. Is “Code Red” a defense for cruel consequences to possibly minor infractions? Just how far does “following orders” serve as an explanation for behavior? Is the military subject to the same rules as the rest of society? Is the “chain of command” the be-all and end-all of military wisdom? Some side issues also emerged, reflecting changes in American thinking since the Cold War. These include treatment of women in the military, including sexual harassment and promotion, and the extent and limits of military power.

Travis Quentin and Zack Roosa - Photo by Andreas Lyon

Director Tony Pauletto manages to coordinate a very large cast of 21 and a play with multiple scenes with talent and care. Keeping things flowing smoothly in this complex environment – while keeping an eye on the overall message - is no small feat. Different scenes almost defy gravity on this two-level stage. A FEW GOOD MEN is presented by the Warehouse Studio Theatre, whose cast and production crew have done an excellent job of breathing new life into a play written over 50 years ago. After all, some of the questions raised still plague this country and await reasonable and ethical answers. 

Sarmarie Klein and Bob Telford - Photo by Andreas Lyon

A FEW GOOD MEN runs through July 17, 2016, with performances at 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The NoHo Arts Center is located at 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. Tickets are $25 ($20 for groups of 12 or more). For information and reservations, call 800-838-3006 or go online at the NoHo Arts Center .

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