Aaron Sorkin’s “A Few Good Men” is a gripping military courtroom thriller now storming the stage of the NoHo Arts Center!
Presented by Warehouse Studio Theatre, this brilliant, reflective classic gives steadfast insight into military, testosterone and codes; code red, moral codes, codes of honor, Unit, Corps, God, Country… Codes!
Hollywood’s critically successful adaptation of this play with notable and quotable lines subliminally had me drawing comparisons of the on-screen characters from some 20 years past. Powerful theatrical performances with spell binding honesty and authenticity diminished any and all precepts and comparisons I may have initially made to the movie.
Mike Lawson (l.), KC Clyde, Sarmarie Klein
Tony Pauletto, director, provides electrifying scenes, insightful characters who are revealed with the genuineness only accessible in live theatre. An open, two-level set design highlighted character spots along with military cadence grounded and retained the military atmosphere and mentality.
As a result of a tragic death followed by military intervention infused with conspiracy, a murder charge is lodged against two young Marines.
The story revolves around the military court martial of U.S. Marines Lance Corporal Dawson, (Travis Quentin) and Private First Class Downey (Zack Roosa), charged with the murder of fellow Marine, Private First Class William T. Santiago (Diego Abelardo) all serving active duty at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba (GITMO). Santiago, not fitting in with his fellow Marines, requested on numerous occasions, to be transferred off base. Santiago made the fatal error of going around the chain of command - breaking code. Through a muddled series of events, an informal disciplinary action was carried out - Code Red.
Investigating the details surrounding the death of Santiago and culpability of others who may be involved, becomes the responsibility of three defense lawyers. Lt. Commander Joanne Galloway (Sarmarie Klein) is an inexperienced lawyer from internal affairs whose suspicions drive the case. Standing strong in the face of misogynistic adversity she is dogmatic in her search for justice for the accused. Lead lawyer on the case Lt. JG Daniel Kaffee, (KC Clyde) is a charming, albeit complacent Naval defense attorney who has a history of plea bargaining. Reluctantly he heads up the defense team enlisting his friend Lt. JG. Sam Weinberg (Mike Lawson), family man, kind, earnest with the calm sense of reason and conscience who rounds out the trio.
Zack Roosa (l.), Travis Quentin, Diego Aguirre
Resentful and powerful adversaries of the legal trio are officers stationed at Gitmo. Lt. Jonathan James Kendrick (Alexander Harris) Dawson and Downey’s commanding officer, a God fearing and fiercely militant upholder of the code. Lt. Colonel Markinson (Stanley Brown) an unwilling meek pawn going along to get along. And, Colonel Nathan Jessup (Dennis Lavalle), a self-righteous, commanding man with influence and control. These career soldiers are formidable foes for any outsider daring to question the word or motives of the military hierarchy.
The second half of the play is the courtroom battle. At stake are the futures of the defendants; exposure of manipulation under the guise of duty and honor, systemic military protocols perpetrating abuse and for Kaffee, doing the right thing.
Direction of “A Few Good Men” is superbly handled with thundering velvet care. Riveting action, pace quickening excitement with a climatic final scene.
The ensemble performs with conviction and flawless perfection. Staging, lighting and sound impeccably carry and sustain the tempo and mood.
“A Few Good Men” is the best theatre I have seen in a very, very long time. An absolute “MUST SEE!”
NoHo Arts Center
June 30 - July 17
Thursday - Saturday @ 8PM and Sunday at 2PM and 8PM
11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601