Barack Obama told Aaron Sorkin that his intention was ‘to steal a lot of your lines.’
Watching this compelling performance of Sorkin’s play, it is easy to see why. A Few Good Men forces us to question what we think we know about truth, justice and honour, and how far we should go to protect what is ‘good.’
The play opens after the death of PFC Willy Santiago at the US Marine base in Guantanamo Bay. Two young Marines, Downey and Dawson, are accused of killing him during an illegal disciplinary measure – ‘Code Red’.
Their case is noticed by Commander Joanne Galloway, an inexperienced and idealistic lawyer, who then persuades the assigned officials to allow her to work with them. The plot follows their attempt to piece together a defence and culminates in an explosive courtroom scene where the ‘honourable’ nature of the US Marine Corps is called into question.
The ‘quick-fire’ energy of the play was immediately palpable, and the cast work skillfully as an ensemble. Tor Lupton gave an exceptional performance as Galloway, delivering her pithy lines with aplomb, and speaking volumes with her emotive facial expressions.
She laudably managed the transition from an initially unlikeable character into an engaging and admirable one. Sam Caird’s Kaffee was strong, effectively conveying his naïve bewilderment at the ‘Marine Way’.
Archie Davies and Matt Orton are scene-stealing as Downey and Dawson; entirely in sync, their bond is clear. Davies portrays Downey superbly as a vulnerable and confused boy who looks to Dawson for guidance, while Orton’s Dawson effectively conveys his growing sense of desperation as the system he loves begins to fail him.
Vic Putz chillingly conveys Jessep’s supreme arrogance, although he is a little static and sometimes lacks variety of tone; his immortal line about truth feels like it should have more force.
Tim Hoare’s direction is effective; his well-thought-out blocking carefully reflects the stifling atmosphere of the play.
This a superb production of an excellent play, performed by a fantastic cast. With some deeply affecting lines, A Few Good Men illuminates the grey area between good and bad. It is provocative, challenging and funny.
Theatre, at it’s most effective, can play a powerful role in sharpening public consciousness, if not actively evoking change. In the intensity of today’s international climate, this production poses pertinent, if uncomfortable questions for anyone who has ever wondered how far we are prepared to go for our beliefs, both as citizens and as individuals.