Review: A Few Good Men

by Lynn on March 12, 2020

in The Passionate Playgoer

At St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, St. Jacobs, Ont.

Written by Aaron Sorkin

Directed by Marti Maraden

Set by Sean Mulcahy

Costumes by Jennifer Wonnacott

Lighting by Kevin Fraser

Cast: George Alevizos

Peter N. Bailey

Benedict Campbell

Tim Campbell

Amos Crawley

Shannon Currie

Thomas Duplessie

Omar Forrest

Alex Furber

JJ Gerber

Timothy Gledhill

Daniel Greenberg

Randy Hughson

Nathanael Judah

Jim Mezon

Oscar Moreno

Tyrone Savage

A play that ramps up the drama and intrigue with every scene in a gripping  production that leaves you limp in your seat at the end, emotionally drained and thrilled.

The Story.  It’s the summer of 1986. The play is set in various locations in Washington, D.C. and on the United States Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A marine has been killed in a ‘code red’ event—an unauthorized hazing. Two marines, Pfc. Louden Downey and Lance Cpl. Harold W. Dawson, have confessed to doing the crime and a lawyer is hired to defend them. But the lawyer, Lt. J.G. Daniel A. Koffee realizes there is much more to the case than the obvious.

The Production. Director Marti Maraden has taken a complicated story with a huge cast and made it fly. Sean Mulcahy’s set is in turns: the courtroom, various offices, the barracks and the naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

This is the macho world of the U.S. Marines taken to a toxic level. It’s a world where haircuts are razor sharp, boots are so highly polished you can see nose hair in the reflection and the uniform, even combat camouflage, is pristine and wrinkle free. It’s a world where everything is done for the honour of the Marine Corps and anyone who is less than up to the grade knows about it with an undertaking known as ‘code red’. Pfc. William T. Santiago (Oscar Moreno) learned about this to his peril.

Who issued the ‘code red?’ Were Pfc. Louden Downey (Thomas Duplessie) and Lance Cpl. Harold W. Dawson (Nathanael Judah) following orders when they fulfilled the ‘code red’? Who passed on the order? That’s what lawyer Lt. J.G Daniel A Kaffee (Tyrone Savage) has to find out.

Marti Maraden has cast a who’s who of top Canadian actors for this bracing production. As Lt. J.G. Daniel A. Kaffee, Tyrone Savage has that brash swagger of a flashy litigation lawyer but with little experience in criminal law. Then he gets it—Kaffee was hired exactly because he had little experience for this kind of law. Tyrone Savage then invests Kaffee with a drive to get the two men off against all odds. Acting as a backup of sorts is Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway played with fierce resolve by Shannon Currie. Galloway had hoped to handle the case herself but was displaced by Kaffee. Galloway endures the misogyny she finds along the way and learns to respect Kaffee and he returns that respect. Shannon Currie plays Joanne Galloway with a stony-faced commitment to the law with integrity and a slow breath in and then exhale when she comes up against the condescension of the Marine Corps.

As Pfc. Louden Downey, Thomas Duplessie is a fearful young man always looking over his shoulder or at Lance Cpl. Harold W. Dawson for validation. As Dawson, Nathanael Judah is a tight-jawed, unquestioning man devoted to the rule of the Marines, without variation, until he realizes his folly in such blind devotion. Jim Mezon plays Capt. Matthew A. Markinson with the stern bearing of a man who knows the Marines and its code but also has a moral conscience. Benedict Campbell plays Lt. Col. Nathan Jessep who believes that any means must be taken to adhere to the code of the Marines and to save lives, even if it means taking lives. Campbell plays Jessep with such contemptuous arrogance it’s both frightening and heartbreaking.  This is a masterful performance as are they all, even the smallest of parts.

This is a production full of nuance, efficiency, detail and attention to the smallest clue about these men and their mysterious world of duty.

Comment. Aaron Sorkin has written a tightly woven story that makes you grip the arm-rest. His sentences are short and punchy. His jokes are sharp and jab where they are most effective. His knows how to spin a yarn and slowly haul in the audience dropping clues along the way to try and find the truth. He knows how a mind works whether it’s a decent person or one with an attitude problem. He writes about finding the truth and hiding it in place sight.

A Few Good Men is full of a lot of fine actors (I include Shannon Currie in this category).Once again Drayton Entertainment offers a stunning production as it did last year with 12 Angry Men (also directed by Marti Maraden). Don’t miss this.

Drayton Entertainment presents:

Opened: March 6, 2020.

Closes: March 22, 2020.

Running Time: 2 hours 45 minutes.

www.draytonentertainment.com

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