As a society, we tend to expect our summertime entertainment to be spectacular. Epic Hollywood adventure movies (I recently watched the new Jurassic World), large scale stage shows (I recently reviewed Les Miserables, Cinderella and 42nd Street, and concerts and music festivals (I might have been to a couple of EDM festivals) are the norm. And all of that is great. But we can’t count out the other end of the spectrum. For example, intimate plays with minimal actors, sets and costumes...that are very well done. And Ensemble Theatre’s production of the acclaimed play, A Few Good Men, is a small-scale show that blows you out of the water.
This gripping courtroom drama, which of course was later adapted into the famous film, has a very intriguing script, thanks to playwright Aaron Sorkin. And Ensemble Theatre has definitely done justice to this great work. The plot revolves around the questionable death of a young marine, and the related conspiracy that’s revealed as the case is brought to military court. As the drama unfolds, we see the maturing of a young military lawyer, Lieutenant Daniel A. Kaffee, as well as the emotional development of an experienced military lawyer, Lieutenant Joanne Galloway.
Directed by Alan Brodie and Tariq Leslie, the rhythm of this production is intense. There’s a sense of urgency in every scene, as we sense the climatic court trial approaching. Presented in a three-quarter roundabout theatre setting, with the front row of the audience just inches away from the actors, we’re so close to the action that we feel like part of the action.
And thanks to the expert lighting design of Patrick J. Smith, Brodie and Leslie have created a three-ring circus throughout the show, with characters stationed in various settings and the lighting cues directing where we should turn our attention to.
The cast does a commendable job tackling Sorkin’s challenging dialogue; kudos especially to the female cast members, who all with the exception of one are playing roles that were originally written for men.
This production features two highly exceptional cast performances from Zac Scott as Kaffee and Alexis Kellum-Creer as Galloway. Both characters have interesting and demanding character arches in the show – for Kaffee it’s his coming-of-age development, and for Galloway it’s her journey as an experienced pro who faces unfamiliar odds.
Scott charms us with his carefree attitude at the start of the story, and continually draws us into his character’s journey as he discovers who he is and what he’s made of. We see his character mature before our eyes. And Galloway, so confident and matter-of-fact in her portrayal of Galloway at the beginning of the play, makes us root for her as she reveals the sensitivity beneath her character’s surface.
During the courtroom scene, Christine Reinfort, who plays Lieutenant Jaqueline Ross - the opposing lawyer to the team of Kaffe and Galloway, makes eye contact with the audience. Given the intimate nature of the play, this gesture was very effective – drawing us in even more and making us feel further invested in the action. It made me feel like I was a member of the jury.
Not having watched the film version of A Few Good Men before, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. The entire experience is excellent – an intelligent, very well-written script, a great interpretation by the artistic team, and unforgettable performances from Zac Scott and Alexis Kellum-Creer. Ensemble Theatre’s production of A Few Good Men is gritty, powerful and thought-provoking. You will likely walk out of the theatre, thinking about the story. And that’s just as powerful as any epic summer adventure movie.
Ensemble Theatre's production of A Few Good Men is part of the company's 6th Annual Repertory Festival at the Jericho Arts Centre, running until August 17, 2018. For tickets and more information, visit Ensemble Theatre's website.