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Saturday night saw Mrs. K and I make the 30 minute journey down to Acton Rd. for Buck Creek Players’ production of A Few Good Men. The play, by popular television/film writer and playwright Aaron Sorkin, opened on Broadway in 1989 before becoming a 1992 film. The military courtroom drama is based on actual events that took place at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in July 1986.

BCP’s offering features a cast of 18, directed by Melissa DeVito. The resulting production is an entertaining evening of well-designed staging and some fine performances. A Few Good Men is the story of two young Marines, Lance Corporal Howard W. Dawson and PFC Louden Downey (played with exactitude by Michael Johnson and Nic Elizondo, respectively). These two are accused of murdering fellow Marine PFC William Santiago (Austin A. Russell), who has had a troubled time at “Gitmo”. Their actions are, on the face, unintentional, but the pair is infused with a fierce military bearing and they are willing to take any consequences that come their way because they were “doing their duty”.

Lt. Kendrick (Aaron E. Smith), LtCol Jessep (John D. Carver) and Capt. Markinson (Ronan Marra) contemplate their situation in BCP's "A Few Good Men"

Lt. Kendrick (Aaron E. Smith), LtCol. Jessep (John D. Carver) and Capt. Markinson (Ronan Marra) contemplate their situation in BCP’s “A Few Good Men”

Their commanding officer, Lt. Col. Nathan Jessep, (portrayed by veteran actor John D. Carver) seems to be behind a plot to get rid of the troublesome Santiago and works alongside Marine Capt. Matthew A. Markinson (compactly played by Ronan Marra) and Marine Lt. Jonathan Kendrick (in a dynamic portrayal by Aaron E. Smith) to facilitate the plan to do so.

Christopher Dietrick as LtJG. Daniel Kaffee and Mary K. Fischer as LtCmdr. Joanne Galloway satr in BCP's "A Few Good Men"

Christopher Dietrick as LtJG. Daniel Kaffee and Mary K. Fischer as LtCmdr. Joanne Galloway star in BCP’s “A Few Good Men”

Enter the Navy JAG team of Lt. J.G. Daniel Kaffee (Christopher Dietrick), Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway (Mary K. Fischer) and Lt. J.G. Sam Weinberg (given an easy and witty presence by Adam Grandy) – who are assigned to represent the Marines in this case against prosecutor Marine Lt. Jack Ross (played with sharp precision by Jay Hemphill). Sorkin’s excellent writing and story-telling skills make for an engaging arc of events that all lead to the finishing point – which if you do not already know, I will not spoil for you.

This production features many high points. The staging is pleasingly rendered by mostly left and right alternating areas on BCP’s large stage, using lights to define the playing areas and changing the many scenes’ furnishings in a quick and non-distracting way. Director DeVito has gotten an even set of fine performances from her cast – in the smaller roles as well as in the principle ones.

Capt. Markinson (Ronan Marra) advises Lance Cpl. Dawson (Michael Johnson) and PFC Downey (Nic Elizondo) in BCP's "A Few Good Men"

Capt. Markinson (Ronan Marra) advises Lance Cpl. Dawson (Michael Johnson) and PFC Downey (Nic Elizondo) in BCP’s “A Few Good Men”

John D. Carver has crafted a multi-leveled character for his Jessep, with shows of quiet confidence, mixed with a fearsomely commanding presence. You almost like him in the beginning scenes of Carver’s portrayal, but that merely adds contrast to the later scenes’ conditions and reactions.

Ms. Fischer offers a finely finished depiction of Lt. Cmdr. Galloway. She gives us a well-informed performance, knowing and showing exactly what her character is thinking and doing – straightforward and pointedly aimed at her quest to do what is legally right by her two charges – the accused Marines.

Dietrick’s Kaffee starts out very Cruise-like, but luckily finds some of it’s own more original definition in subsequent scenes. Dietrick looks very comfortable on stage. It is my understanding that he is a relative new-comer to theatre, but that does not show in his choices and methods. He does a wonderful job letting us see most of what Kaffee is about and what he is going through, although I would have liked to have seen a bit more intensity at certain times.

Kaffee (Christopher Dietrick) confers with opposing lawyer Lt. Jack Ross (Jay Hemphill) in BCP's "A Few Good Men"

LtJG. Kaffee (Christopher Dietrick) confers with opposing lawyer Lt. Jack Ross (Jay Hemphill) in BCP’s “A Few Good Men”

Speaking of intensity, my feeling is that the only thing that is lacking in this very entertaining production is a story arc that dynamically portrays the increase of tension in the evolving situations and characters. Even Markinson’s endpoint in the play is presented rather matter-of-factly, whereas I consider it to be a very tragic moment. Basically, I think a good deal of the play unfurls as one would read it on a page as opposed to a dramatic rendering. But essentially, I feel this missing aspect is overcome by very good acting and a sharply designed production.

You’ll have to rush to see this worthwhile show. It is on BCP’s calendar for a total of two weeks. After the March 29th matinee, you will only have April 3, 4, and 5 to attend. Evening shows are at 8 pm and Sunday matinees begin at 2:30 pm. Reservations and ticket info is available at the BCP website http://www.buckcreekplayers.com/ or by calling the box office at (317) 862-2270.

* – Photos by Aaron B. Bailey

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