Masterful Handling of the Truth
Last summer, Drayton Entertainment brought us 12 Angry Men, a 1957 drama where jury members are trying to determine the truth. This year, Drayton is presenting A Few Good Men, a 1986 courtroom drama, also seeking truth.
With 12 Angry Men, I said that director Marti Maraden deserved credit for assembling an outstanding cast. She has done the same with A Few Good Men.
Brilliantly written by Aaron Sorkin, who gave us the TV show West Wing, this play features his trademark rapid-fire dialogue. It’s interesting that he wrote this play on napkins while working as a bartender between acting gigs. The play is based on a story related to him by his sister, Barbara Sorkin, who is a Navy Judge Advocate General. She is represented by the character Joanne Galloway in the play.
A young military lawyer, Daniel Kaffee, is given the job of defending two marines charged with murdering a fellow marine at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Joanne Galloway apprises him of the case and feels he won’t take it seriously, so she stays involved. She believes the pair were just acting on orders. Against all odds, Kaffee and his team are able to free the young men when Kaffee goads an arrogant Lt. Col. getting him to confess, even though he is so sure he has done nothing wrong.
Benedict Campbell is outstanding as Lt. Col. Jessop. You can feel his malevolence. Opposing him, Tyrone Savage is excellent as Daniel Kaffee. We see him grow as the play progresses, from a smart-ass more concerned with his baseball team to a lawyer able to stick to his goal. Shannon Currie is perfect as Joanne Galloway. She shows her vulnerability at times, but also has the courage of her convictions. You will remember Currie for her brilliant performance as Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker. As assistant to Kaffee, Daniel Greenburg gives a good performance as Lt. Sam Weinberg.
The two young marines charged in the case are played very well by Nathanael Judah as Dawson and Thomas Duplessie as Downey. Judah gives us a stoic Marine while Duplessie is the nervous kid. Nine others round out the cast, all adding to the tension.
Most people will be familiar with the 1992 movie version with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, where Nicholson angrily yells the iconic sentence “You can’t handle the truth”. Here’s the amazing thing about this production and Benedict Campbell’s performance as Lt. Col. Jessop. We all know the famous line is coming: we are all prepared for it, yet we are holding our breath. Campbell says it with such contempt and follows it with his confession. His hubris and malice are so overpowering that the audience feels their effect.
Whatever you do, don’t stay home because you’ve seen the movie and you don’t think you need to see the play. Watching this show live is so powerful that you feel totally involved.
A Few Good Men continues with eight shows a week until March 22 at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse. Call the Box Office Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check http://www.draytonentertainment.com for availability.
Photo: Col. Julius Alexander Randolph (Randy Hughson), Lt. Col. Nathan Jessop (Benedict Campbell), and Lt. J. G. Daniel A. Kaffee (Tyrone Savage) in A Few Good Men. Photo by Hilary Gauld Camilleri.
A Few Good Men
By Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Marti Maraden
Performed by Tyrone Savage, Benedict Campbell, Shannon Currie, Daniel Greenberg, Nathaniel Judah, Thomas Duplessie, et al.
St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, St. Jacobs/Waterloo
March 4 to 22, 2020
Reviewed by Mary Alderson