Marine Corps honor and military mentality on trial

Stage Review

Robert E. Wills (from left) Ricky Jones, Cameron Keys, David Tuttle, Rueben Carrion, Megan Caccamo and Neil Sullivan bring the drama of Aaron Sorkin’s “A Few Good Men” to Maui. Jack Grace photo

Robert E. Wills (from left) Ricky Jones, Cameron Keys, David Tuttle, Rueben Carrion, Megan Caccamo and Neil Sullivan bring the drama of Aaron Sorkin’s “A Few Good Men” to Maui. Jack Grace photo

Although rarely as well attended as musicals, when done right, a great drama is considerably more intimate, affective and touchable. Director Rick Scheideman’s minimalist staging of “A Few Good Men” leaves little option other than investing in the dramatic work of this strong local cast.

An unassuming set by Caro Walker has very little furniture and requires no scene changes. Shrouded in grey, its scenes play out instantly and the characters move seamlessly from a baseball field to offices, apartments, holding cells and the courtroom merely by stepping into platformed spaces on the unadorned stage.

Amy Lord’s lighting is similarly unobtrusive and there are very few sound cues in the production as well. Further facilitating the quick-moving production is the placement of its full cast, cloaked in shadow, seated on folding metal chairs upstage for the entire performance. Like a film, the play jumps from scene to scene briskly and the uninterrupted action gives the illusion that the show is significantly shorter than an average play.

Ricky Jones as Lt. J.G. Daniel Kaffee gives a magnificent, award-worthy performance ably arcing from cocky indifference peppered with droll facetiousness, to rage and finally an unruffled and salient courtroom presentation. Newcomer Megan Caccamo as Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway flawlessly counters Kaffee with a dismissive supremacy that rings both proper and obligatory. The two have natural stage chemistry and are one of the best stage pairings of the season.

Matching Caccamo and Jones are the performances of Rueben Carrion and David Tuttle as Pfc. Louden Downey and Lance Cpl. Harold Dawson. Their realistic portrayals provide necessary sympathy for the plight of the accused as well as perplexity toward the code they embrace in spite of their grave predicament.

Jones (from left), Tuttle, Carrion, Caccamo and Sullivan stand at attention for the verdict. Jack Grace photo

Jones (from left), Tuttle, Carrion, Caccamo and Sullivan stand at attention for the verdict. Jack Grace photo

The entire cast of “A Few Good Men” offers memorable featured performance moments including Neil Sullivan as Lt. Sam Weinberg, Anthony Rummel as Lt. Jonathan Kendrick and Tully O’Reilly as the play’s victim, Pfc. William Santiago.

Two portrayals not to go unmentioned are those of Jonathan Yudis as Capt. Matthew Markinson and Robert E. Wills as Col. Nathan R. Jessep. The duo, though similar in makeup, have opposing principles. Jessep sees the world in black and white with concrete regulations and consequences, Markinson in shades of grey with pressing compulsory exceptions. Both actors deliver tremendous monologues in Act 2 that posture their point of view. April is traditionally the end month of theater season, and “A Few Good Men” is both must-see theater and a fitting closing exhibition of acting excellence.

* Maui OnStage continues Aaron Sorkin’s “A Few Good Men.” Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through May 14 at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku. Tickets range from $20 to $40. “A Few Good Men” contains strong, adult language and may not be appropriate for children. To purchase tickets, call 242-6969 or order online at www.mauionstage.com.

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