A Few Good Men

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A Few Good Men

By Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Greg Shawcross for Geelong Rep.
Lt. Jr. Grade Daniel Kaffee, a rookie lawyer in the United States Navy, is marking time playing softball and plea-bargaining frivolous lawsuits until his three years of service are up. That is, until Division assigns him to be defense counsel for two marines serving at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who are accused of murdering a young marine.
As Kaffee and his co-counsel delve deeper into the case; the careers, legacies and honour of many marine and navy officers come into question. Kaffee must decide whether to continue down the path of fast and slick out-of-court settlements or to take a stand for his clients.
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin got the inspiration to write the play from a phone conversation with his sister Deborah, who had graduated from Boston University Law School and signed up for a three-year stint with the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He wrote much of his story on cocktail napkins while bartending at the Palace Theatre on Broadway.
The movie, made in 1992, was directed by Rob Reiner and starred Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore, with Kevin Bacon and Kiefer Sutherland (among others) in supporting roles.
“I’ve been a fan of Sorkin for a long time – having seen movies like The Social Network and watching every episode of The West Wing on TV. I knew of A Few Good Men, the movie, and discovered the play and thought that this was an amazing piece of theatre that would fit well in the intimacy of the Woodbin Theatre,” says Geelong Rep’s Director, Greg Shawcross.
A Few Good Men (Xavier McGettigan as PFC Louden Downey) web“The best theatre works when an audience will go out into the foyer after the show has ended and start discussing the play. If ever there was a play worthy of this it’s this one, because the play is entirely about when is it right to do something and when is it wrong. When does an order become an illegal order? That’s the paradox of the play – it’s illegal to disobey an order, but it’s equally illegal to carry out an illegal order! That’s the dilemma the characters find themselves in.”
This production features many of Geelong’s finest actors – three of which, Andrew Lorenzo, Rose Sejean and Steve Howell, coincidentally, have military backgrounds. Andrew Lorenzo is playing the cocky Lt. Jr. Grade Daniel Kaffee (the role Tom Cruise played in the movie). “When I was 18-22, I spent four years in the US Army training recruits in the ROTC in bases in New Jersey. I was part of 19 Delta Armoured Cavalry, so I got to operate tanks. I’ve been helping the guys in the cast know how to stand, speak, wear their uniforms,” Andrew says.
“With the role I want to give it some real tenacity. Character-wise, I’m playing Kaffee as the immature, conceited guy that he is, but moving into the kick-butt attorney that he knows he can be.”
Is the big, famous courtroom scene (between Cruise and Jack Nicholson in the movie) a moment of butt-clenching terror for you? He laughs. “Oh yeah! That’s an incredible moment. It gets your adrenalin going!”
David Mackay (Lt. Col. Jessep – the Jack Nicholson role) has the responsibility of saying probably one of the most famous lines in movie history in that scene. How does he feel about saying it? “Very daunted!”
The only woman in the cast, Rose Sejean (Lt. Cmdr. Jo Galloway) has the military in her blood. Her grandfather was trained by the French in the Charles DeGaulle army in Lebanon, and her father was a gunner in the Australian Army.
“I’d like to bring strength to the character of Jo because she fights the entire show for a lot of different reasons. She finds Kaffee to be a massive challenge, and has to learn to be the bigger person and support Kaffee, instead of wanting to be Lead Counsel herself,” Rose says.
The outstanding cast of 17 have been practising their drills, standing to ‘ten-hut!’ and getting into the military and legal mind-sets over the many weeks of intense rehearsal. The dialogue is slick and fast-paced and the extraordinary staging makes this contemporary classic full of wit, intrigue and suspense a production absolutely not to be missed. Can you handle it?
WHERE: Woodbin Theatre, 15 Coronation Street, Geelong West
WHEN: 17 April – 2 May. Shows start at 7.30pm. Matinees start at 2pm
TIX: GPAC 5225 1200
Written by Sue Rawkins