A FEW GOOD MENby Aaron Sorkin
Richardson Theatre Centre
Director: Janette Oswald
Stage Manager: Nathan Beeman
Set Designer: LaMar Graham, Janette Oswald
Sound Designer: Robbi Holman
Lighting Designer: Chris Berthelot
Costume Designer: Karen Askew
Prop Designers: Penny Elaine, Elise Chinn
Artistic Director: Rachael Lindley
Executive Director: Lise Alexander
Technical Director: Richard Stephens, Sr.
Lance Cpl. Harold Dawson: Joshua Nerio
PFC. Louden Downey: Gavin Moore
L.T. J.G. Sam Weinberg: Joe Cucinotti
L.T. J.G. Daniel Kaffee: Ian Grygotis
Lt. Com. Joanne Galloway: Janae Hatchett
Capt. Isaac Whitaker: Chris Berthelot
Capt. Matthew Markinson: Kenneth Fulenwider
PFC. William Santiago: Loren Pontiff
Col. Nathan Jessep: Brian Hoffman
Lt. Jonathan Kendrick: Blair Mitchell
Lt. Jack Ross: Andy Looney
Cpl. Jeffrey Howard: Indrias Haddis
Judge Julius Randolph: Everett Dealy
Dr. Walter Stone: Anthony Magee
Lawyer #1, MP, Hammaker: Lonnie Davis
Tom, MP, Orderly: Robert Sims
Lawyer #2, MP, Dunn, Sergeant At Arms: Clayton Rivera
Reviewed Performance: 10/14/2022
Reviewed by Scott Lee Clayton, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The play follows the events leading to the trial of the murder of PFC. William Santiago’s death. It follows the story of trying to prove the innocence of Lance Cpl. Harold Dawson and PFC. Louden Downey, in a defense team led by L.T. J.G. Daniel Kaffee, L.T. J.G. Sam Weinberg, and Lt. Com. Joanne Galloway. An investigation is afoot and feels like a sense of cover-up when it comes to the line of questioning in Col. Nathan Jessep, Lt. Kendrick, and Capt. Matthew Markinson. Once we get to the trial, the trial is a wild goose chase of puzzle pieces leading us to the climactic moment of the missing piece of the puzzle to clear Dawson and Downey’s innocence. Furthermore, this climatic movement or arrival per se is beautifully directed by Janette Oswald.
What I love about this play is how Sorkin writes this wonderful work, as it’s almost like you are getting 2 different stories. In Act 1 you get the exposition of events leading to the trial, while Act 2 follows the events of the trial. While Santiago is the true victim of this story, really the perpetrators are almost victimlike, in a sense of innocence and confusion in the portrayals of Dawson and Downey played by Joshua Nerio and Gavin Moore, respectively. The real tour de force of this show is one Ian Grygotis playing L.T. J.G. Daniel Kaffee. Grygotis plays this role with conviction, perseverance, and determination which leads to the story of an underdog becoming the hero. Without Janae Hatchett’s portrayal of Galloway, I feel the pace of the play would’ve suffered, as Hatchett’s urgency to get Kaffee to find the missing piece of evidence, really drives this play forward with the help of Joe Cucinotti’s comic relief and sidekick like mannerisms in his portrayal of L.T. J.G. Sam Weinberg.
Additionally, Brian Hoffman brings Jessep to life with the direct parallels and moxie of one Jack Nicholson in the 1992 classic film of the same name. The same monologue that I performed in my freshman year of college in Acting 1, has the same conviction and purpose which actually if you were to do a split screen of Hoffman and Nicholson’s performance of this iconic monologue, you’d be watching similar instincts that Nicholson had in his choices with this same monologue, which is scary in a good way with how much parallels and motifs Hoffman had to Nicholson’s portrayal of Jessep. Specifically, what I loved about Hoffman’s portrayal is while there were some instincts of Nicholson, he had instincts of his own that made Colonel Jessep his own personal creation and portrayal. Finally, other standouts include the likes of Kenneth Fulenwider’s sense of guilt and doing what’s the right attitude with Markinson, cover-up and villainous Lt. Jonathan Kendrick played by Blair Mitchell, The brilliant plaintiff-like attitude in Andy Looney’s Lt. Jack Ross, as well as the quick-witted and orderly Judge Julius Randolph pleaded by Everett Dealy. Oswald leads a brilliant ensemble. It should be stated this ensemble makes the show such a stellar success.
In terms of production, Janette Oswald’s direction leaves you with questions and one question I had is how many parallels she brings to Sorkin’s work from the 1992 film of the same name. I mean this in a good way because if you are a fan of the movie, you will be a fan of Oswald’s direction as she makes the play bring the movie to life with the way she cast this production. By the end of the play’s conclusion, you’re left with serious questions which really make you think about “what really happened” and “who really was the guilty party”. Furthermore, what I also found so intriguing about the play was the underscoring in Robbi Holman’s sound design, as the sound has elements of the movie’s score which adds to the sense of suspense in how the production moves.
One thing I must applaud is Lamar Graham and Oswald’s set design, as while minimalistic, it is genius how this universal set turns into the courtroom and wouldn’t have guessed there were two different sets in one piece of minimalism which adds to how well this play was produced. Additionally, Berthelot’s lighting design is haunting in the sense of flashback specials and creates a suspenseful intensified aura to Oswald and Graham’s set. Finally, Karen Askew’s costumes are a complete parallel to the movie of the same name as it’s almost like you’re watching a live-action production of the film which compliments how well this play was directed in Oswald’s approach.
In conclusion, Richardson Theatre Centre’s A Few Good Men by Aaron Sorkin is a direct parallel to the ’92 film and is sure not to disappoint. With this suspenseful, moving intensity, as Oswald directs this intense suspenseful aura of a theatrical piece that leaves you with thought-provoking questions as the lights fade out in the final scene.