Continuing with my blog series and review of Actors Theatre of Louisville’s 2011-12 series of plays, Mom and I recently saw the third play in our seven-play season subscription, ReEntry, by Emily Ackerman and KJ Sanchez, directed by KJ Sanchez.
Again, I’m not an avid theater-goer and I don't pretend to know the intricacies of the theater, but I know what I like, so I will simply relate what Mom and I thought of the performance.
ReEntry is a play about what life is like for combat veterans and their families once they come home from the war. The content comes from actual interviews with Marines and Marine families. The dialogue is sometimes harsh, sometimes crude, sometimes humorous, but always real.
Performed in the intimate Bingham Theatre, you might think that you are sitting in a lecture hall when actor Larry Mitchell takes the stage as a commanding officer instructing parents on what the Marines are about to do with their sons and daughters. Mitchell is so believable as the commanding officer that I had to check his bio in the program to see if he had a military background. From what I can tell, he doesn't, but his look, his stature, mannerisms, voice, all were characteristics I'd seen in military men and women I've known. Mitchell provides the viewpoint of the career Marine who may be going through the same fears and concerns as his younger counterparts, but is so seasoned that he can hide it or overcome it to continue his mission without ever losing control.
The other players in the cast are actors Brandon Jones and Ben Rosenblatt who play brothers that are both in the Marines. One obviously more mature than the other, but both very similar in their battles on and off the field. Actresses Jessi Blue Gormezano and Samerrah Luqmaan-Harris play sister and mother to these brothers. The four show the struggles and worries that a family goes through when part of the family is off fighting a war and the other part is trying not to show their fears.
Woven between the stories of the family and the commanding officer are other characters portrayed by Jones, Rosenblatt, Gormezano, and Luqmaan-Harris. Although wardrobe changes are minor (putting on or taking off a jacket or glasses), the actors do a great job of changing personalities so that the audience is immediately aware of the new character. Through these characters, new stories are portrayed to describe life for a young couple and young family.
Although going into this I thought there would be some sort of political statement, it is not an overly political play. The message is from the service men and women and how they cope with what they've experienced or are experiencing. It's really not about an opinion on the war.
Mom and I agreed that this was one of the more thought-provoking plays we've seen. It showed things that military families go through that non-military families may not have realized.
This play had Mom and I talking the whole way home and thinking more about what we've seen or haven't seen in the news: the humbleness Dakota Meyer exhibited when he received the Medal of Honor earlier this year, the absence of the once daily updates of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the reality that today's young children don't know life without the war.
If you plan to see this play, please be warned that there is A LOT of cursing. However, knowing that the speech was taken straight from real-life interviews with real-life Marines, the cursing is tolerable and expected. This is not something to take your kids to see unless maybe you have an older child considering joining the military.
The performance runs through December 17, 2011. A trailer of the play can be seen in the video below. Ticketing information can be found on Actors Theatre’s website.
Photo: Courtesy Actors Theatre of Louisville