A FEW GOOD MEN
Theatre at Baddow
at the Parish Hall
Legend has it that Sorkin's tightly plotted play was sketched on serviettes while he was behind the bar in Broadway's Palace Theatre. La Cage Aux Folles, since you ask.
A story of smart-witted lawyers and single-minded Marines, A Few Good Men poses many challenges, not least the inevitable comparison with the 1992 movie.
Patrick Willis got some cracking performances from his TAB cast. Dawson and Downey [Bruce Thomson and Matt Nobbs] are two teenagers charged with murdering a fellow Marine. Tyro naval lawyer [junior grade] Daniel Kaffee, with his "fast-food, slick-ass" manner, is to handle the defence. Ben Salmon's performance was spot on. Gum-chewing, cynical, timing his quick-fire repartee to perfection, he was well matched by Kelly McGibney's Galloway, eager to make an impression and find a loophole, upbeat and perky until a courtroom faux pas shatters her fragile confidence. And by John Mabey's Weinberg, one of the few likeable characters, with a nice feel for the desperate humour.
Their opponents across Jim Crozier's courtroom were Paul Winter's McKendrick, a shouty, Christian Lieutenant, and Jesse Powis's arrogant Jessup, a very strong performance, short on light and shade perhaps, but frighteningly believable. His climactic defeat at Kaffee's hands was one of the best moments I've seen on the amateur stage for some time. No weaknesses in this large cast, but space only to mention Beth Crozier's doctor, brow-beaten by Jessup, and Roger Saddington as smiling Jack Ross, the voice of reason.
Not an easy play to stage, switching between courtroom and offices, role-play and reality; sometimes the pace and realism came at the expense of clarity, and some of the uniforms would have merited a Code Red, but nonetheless a remarkable achievement for this ambitious group.