Although this piece of theater that is nearly eponymous with its catchphrase, A Few Good Men is so much more than people not handling the truth. As Aaron Sorkin’s flagship drama, Men weaves poetic dialogue into a dense political thriller, creating a captivating and fluid narrative, which is all the more impressive considering the especially rigid subject matter: lawyers and soldiers.
The Keegan Theatre adeptly interpreted Sorkin’s work. This troupe’s gravitas carried the heavy tone while effortlessly slipping in moments of levity, resulting in a dynamic tone that built into an exhilarating climax. But what makes this performance truly special Jeremy Skidmore’s relentlessly engaging and artistically engaging direction. Skidmore’s non-literal stagings felt unquestionably authentic and amplified the stoic atmosphere. The blocking itself evoked an eerie feeling of surveillance and sinister formality. The delicately crafted stage pictures burned with militaristic solemnity as soldiers would stand as sentinels looming over scenes, acting as the perimeter watches referenced in this play. The military chants paired with the boot camp style exercise performed throughout the house made for appropriately unsettling transitions whose repetitions and variations only contributed to its intended purpose. All in all, Skidmore proved himself to be a precise and compelling director.
Scenic design by Steven Royal was visually stunning, albeit a tad overt. However, the all too obvious symbolism of the giant flagpole resting at forty-five degrees is well worth it as the pole provides a dynamic plane to act upon and the enormous flag itself is a sight to behold. Lighting Designer Kyle Grant also followed a similar style with his rows of red, white, and blue bulbs lining the perimeters of the set’s frames. This element was perfectly executed and operated, giving striking visuals and mood intensifiers while manifesting the play’s themes. The dark, shadowy scenes pulled off having low visibility without losing any of the dramatic vibrancy, emitting a dreamlike feel to the flashback scenes. Also, the crisp costume designs of Chelsey Schuller deserves to be mentioned, as she developed a completely accurate wardrobe that fell into an incredibly tasteful color palette.
Maboud Ebrahimzadeh gave the most likable performance I have ever seen. His portrayal of LTJG Daniel A. Kaffee was down to earth, emotionally compelling, and just made you want to hang out with him after the show. He carried this show with aloofness and artistry, creating a character bound to remind you of your cool big brother or best friend while making your heart jump out of your chest with excitement.
Playing his opposite, Brianna Letourneau’s Joanne Galloway lit up the stage with a cartoony (one of the first things said to her onstage is how she talks like someone whose dialogue was poorly written) yet viscerally realistic performance. Her anal and high-strung personality grew all the more endearing as she acted as the moral core of the play, backed up by yet another likable interpretation. Filling out the trio of protagonists, Michael Innocenti had the most dramatized performance out of all of them, leading to a amusing bits revolving around him.
The main “villain” of the play was presented by Mark A. Rhea, who gave a volcanic performance as Colonel Nathan Jessup. He was everything that a foil to Ebrahimzadeh should be: vile, sickening, and morally reprehensible. His demeanor was blunt and constantly belligerent without falling into melodramatic performance. Rhea walked right up to the line, spat on it, and made you love him for hating him so much. Other remarkable performances include Kevin Hasser as an adorably hilarious military officer, and Kevin Adams as a gruff – yet morally correct -lieutenant. As the tight-lipped prosecutor Jack Ross, Bradley Foster Smith was also a force to be reckoned with. His legal rhetoric flowed off his tongue while displaying the building tension subtly yet powerfully.
A Few Good Men at The Keegan Theater is a remarkable production. Be sure to see this great interpretation and this incredible cast.
Running Time: Two hours and forty minutes, with one fifteen-minute intermission.
A Few Good Men plays through September 7, 2013 at the The Keegan Theatre – 1742 Church Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 892-0202, or purchase them online.