GITMO productions features students from Oxford University. The company has brought this production to the Oxford Playhouse at an apposite time, when American politics are at the centre of public and private interest, and after cases in recent years in which soldiers’ misjudged actions have been splashed across newspapers, and questions have been asked about senior complicity. If theatre about military politics does not sound interesting, this play has much more to offer than that – it is gripping storytelling, which tells human stories.
The fact that Sorkin’s play shows such prescience must not distract from the sheer magnetism of the drama. The mystery being revealed and discovered, as well as the court room scenes in the second act where everything is at stake, is compelling enough to absorb the audience’s attention for the evening. The relations between Galloway, co-counsel Sam Weinberg, and the arrogant Lieutenant Kaffee, who is assigned the case, are also engaging – gradually shifting friendships, which will lead each to examine and re-examine his and her own values and motivations. Especially nice is Kaffee and Galloway’s relationship, which starts so unpromisingly before it develops during the course of the play.
The set for this production was sparse, and more attention was paid to the costumes, which sometimes made the stage look bare. However, what is most important on stage is good drama, well acted, and this is what A Few Good Men delivers. The three leads, Charles Reston as Weinberg, Sam Caird as Kaffee, and Victoria Lupton as Galloway, give excellent performances. All three can do justice to the roles, and deliver the slick and amusing dialogue with good timing. It would be good to see more from Reston, who particularly stood out despite having the fewest lines of these three. The cast as a whole sustained convincing American accents, which can so easily be a pitfall in British productions of American drama.
An excellent blend of the serious and the funny, A Few Good Men is certain to entertain, and this production does great justice to a story which is not often told on the stage, and deserves to be rediscovered not just as the play which spawned the famous film, but as a great piece of theatre in itself.