Theatre in the Country can handle the truth.
It will be presenting A Few Good Men, written by Aaron Sorkin, Sept. 29 to Oct. 15 at 9975 – 272 Street in Maple Ridge.
The story is of a rookie military lawyer at a court-martial hearing who uncovers a high-level conspiracy.
The lawyer, Lt. Daniel Kaffee, played in the movie by Tom Cruise, is assigned to defend two marines on trial for the murder of one of their platoon members.
Lance Cpl. Harold Dawson and Private Louden Downey are facing a court-martial, accused of killing fellow Marine Private William Santiago at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.
Santiago compared unfavorably to his fellow marines, had poor relations with them, and failed to respect the chain of command in attempts at being transferred to another base.
Lt. Col. Matthew Markinson, advocates that Santiago be transferred immediately, while Lt. Jonathan James Kendrick advises to train him to become a better Marine.
When Dawson and Downey are later arrested for Santiago’s murder, naval investigator and lawyer Lt. Comm. JoAnne Galloway, played in the movie by Demi Moore, suspects they carried out a “code red” order, a violent extrajudicial punishment.
Lt. Kaffee, an inexperienced U.S. Navy lawyer, expects a plea-bargain, and a cover-up of what really happened.
But Lt. Kaffee eventually makes a valiant effort to defend his clients and, in doing so, the play raises the questions of what it means to have honour, dignity and humanity in an increasingly complex world.
Reg Parks, artistic director of Theatre in the Country, plays Col. Nathan Jessop, and is also directing the play.
Parks said Theatre in the Country chose A Few Good Men because it wanted a more modern play with more roles for men.
“I wanted to do a play for men,” he said. “Theatre has a reputation for being more feminine than masculine, sometimes.”
The theatre group was also looking for something more current than the period pieces from the 1800s or 1930s it has done before.
“Something with a more modern bent.”
And, he added, A Few Good Men is a microcosm of the current U.S. presidential campaign, with competing Conservative and Liberal viewpoints.
The group just got its costumes and has been rehearsing its marching and military salutes and movements.
Melissa Ratcliff, who plays Lt. Comm. Galloway in the play, has 15 years experience in the Canadian military and, Parks said, has been drilling the cast on proper procedures.
“Saluting is hard work,” Parks added.
The movements of the Canadian and U.S. military are different. Two cadets in the cast had to learn everything fresh, he said.
And the group is still learning its chants.
“‘I wan-na be a Yuk-on rang-er,’ and stuff like that.”
In and effort to reflect modern times, Park said the group changed a few roles from male to female, such as the judge, and a soldier.
“We decided that before auditions,” noting that other theatre groups in North America have done the same.
Parks said Theatre in the Country’s version of the play closely mirrors the movie, which he hasn’t watched in 15 years. He won’t watch it before performing the play, or afterwards.
“All the famous lines are in there, such as ‘You can’t handle the truth.’”
Playing a role made iconic by Jack Nicholson, Parks won’t even pretend to compete and said he’s taking his inspiration from the text.
“It’s fun to play the bad guy, as always.
Edwin Perez, from Vancouver, plays Lt. Kaffee. Parks said Perez, who has a wealth of film and TV experience, was a great find for the role, and that there are other professionals in the cast.
“The quality of the production is pretty exceptional,” he said. “I’m pretty pleased about that.”