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Posted on July 6th, 2012, by

Recently, I have attended the play ďA few good manĒĚ directed by Kit Wilder and written by Aaron Sorkin. The play was staged at the City Lights Theater Company on June 7, 2008.¬†The opening of the play is a marine song which lasts for a few minutes. In fact, the opening has heavy sound effects and Downey and Dowson state their position and charges at upstage right.

While I was focusing on upstages, actors had entered the stage from the same entrance, where audience entered, and sat aside. During the first ten minutes, I was bewildered at the strange navy conversation style and fast speaking of actors. Soon the alienated feeling had passed away, but great excitement overwhelmed me when I saw the scenes and situations that did not in the reality, but which I saw in the play.

Although the entire story takes place in a navy base and court, which I have never been at and which I cannot even imagine, nevertheless, the characters seem natural and are real and true to life. In my opinion, all of the characters in this play was great because the distance between actors and the audience was so close, especially to me since I sat very close to the stage. But the actors drew the fourth wall and divided the space between them and the audience very distinctly.

It is hardly possible to distinguish only two characters for giving credit as best acting in the play, but I would like to choose Thomas Gorrebeeck, who performed the role of Daniel Kaffee, and Stephen Sherwwod, who performed the role of Santiago. These two characters play contrasting roles and acting from their presence in the stage. Gorrebeeck is a leading actor in the story and acts in the most of scenes. But his energetic expressions are not lost and neglected in any single line or a scene, so I was able to follow the fast story development without losing my interest. Moreover, he depicts the role of Kaffee, who has a shadow of his father and is afraid of being judged by comparing to his father.

His acting unfolds step by step on how Kaffee becomes unwilling and weak to impassionate in his job and practicing justice. His skills on expressing his line are perfect since his play is natural and accurately conveys the character of the person he plays. On the other hand, Sherwood, who acts as Santiago, produces a different impression. Basically, this character does not appear or speak a lot in the play, but his presence at the upstage left during the majority of scenes asserts me to figure out myself who he is and why he is dead. In other words, unlike Kaffee, who is depicted abundantly by the actor throughout the play, the silent characteristic of Santiago implicates more what the play
writer wants to say than he actually says through his play. And just by sitting quietly during the play, Sherwood holds and
awakens the audience to right way what we need to think for dealing with the issue. To give the credits for my impression, the directing and each design element are of a paramount importance for the play.

In such a¬†small theater, the director and designers have done brilliant works. If we assess the custom and lighting by visual scales, one might think them as too normal or inferior. However, the simple and normal custom and lighting are the director’s key points in this play with the help of which the director handles the strong and heavy issue and also boost the acting. I¬†was strongly impressed by set design that was divided mostly in four parts and it showed different spaces and time lines. Set designer uses upstage right for military jail and upstage left for an incident scene and the Santiago’s mind and down stages for current events. These stage settings increase dramatic story line like audience witnesses the whole story by a¬†glance. And the lighting design expands its effects within its minimal uses.

The lighting designer just uses blue and warm natural lights, but it is enough to depict the situations. The blue lights create the cold, strict, and formal mood of story that takes place in a naval court and base. And, by increasing and decreasing the brightness the warm lights, the designer expresses different time lines, past and present, and the dramatic nature of the situation, funny or shocking.

The brilliant set and light design are harmonized in the directing and support each element believable in the small scale sets. I was totally into this play by acting and directing, but I would like to suggest one thing to improve this play, props. Although the props may seem to be unimportant, I still would have changed it. If they changed the tables and chairs in the more appropriate way for navy and court, it would seem to be more like real and increase the strictness of the places.

The play writer raises a question on the issue of morality and justice vs. reality that there should be no such a crime in the military. The writer wonders whether it is possible that people follow the orders by honored high ranking officers. And he also asks us how we set a norm in our society and treat others, who could not fulfill our expectation.

I¬†believe anyone in our social group could be in Santiago’s shoes and anyone of us could be discriminated unconsciously. Another relevant issue of this play is how far we can accept the brutality of military by the name of serving the country. For instance, on the war on Iraq, the military discriminates and tortures prisoners to get information, but no matter what they intent to get or do, there should be morality and justice. Throughout this play,I¬†got great and unforgettable impressions, and this play shows the right way to interpret the plays.

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