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    2008-2009 reviews:
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    A Soldier's Death

    In arms' way

    A slain G.I. in an unnamed war suddenly sits up and confronts a strange reality in the well-written and sometimes surprising "A Soldier's Death."


    The man in combat fatigues lies prone on the stage as we take our seats, and when he wakes up he discovers he's dead. Or something.

    Written by: Tom O'Neil.
    Directed by: Tony Pennino, David Renwanz.
    Cast: Cast A: Kyle Pierson, Deirdre Schwiesow, Gavin Smith, Sarah Wolfman-Robichaud, Nixon Cesar, Peter Stewart.
    Cast B: Tim Cox, Jennifer Johnson, Bruce Borman, Brianna Hansen, Liche Ariza, Blake Catherwood.
    Thirteenth Street Repertory
    50 West 13th St. (btw. 5th & 6th Aves.)
    Dec. 5, 2002 - Jan. 11, 2003

    "Wow, look at me — I'm a mess. Well, that's what happens!" Adam says to himself, keeping a positive attitude about the whole thing. He shines a flashlight over himself for a status check, failing only to illuminate the obvious: the bloody tatters where his right foot once was. He tries to stand up but crumples back to the ground.

    "Well, that didn't work. Must be dizzy," he reassures himself, not quite aware that he's dead. Maybe it's just one of those days. A voice calls him to dinner.

    "Okay, I'm coming," the soldier says dutifully, and then catches himself. "Mom?"

    Soon mom, dad and sis have all popped up in the middle of the combat zone, with a nice picnic lunch and a basketful of old memories. It's this civilian invasion that adds a poignant and surprising counterpoint to the theater of war. (Which war it we're seeing is left purposely vague but it feels like it could be Vietnam.) Mutilated and cheerful, Adam chats with the family as if he's back home; meanwhile, they talk as if they half-realize they're in the combat zone. It's a strange but subtly touching reminder of the real human being, the grown-up kid, inside the soldier's uniform.

    Later two more soldiers climb the hilltop looking for Adam's corpse, and they have a lot to say about the nature of army life. The play's intended message is undoubtedly supposed to receive some kind of explicit statement in this portion of the play, but it didn't entirely come across to me. Yet, the strong parts — with generally well-written dialogue and able acting — are more than enough to make "A Soldier's Death" a meaningful, and obviously timely, meditation on what we send our boys into when we send them to battle.

    DECEMBER 27, 2002

    Reader comments on A Soldier's Death:

  • The best show I've seen this year   from Frank Julia, Jul 11, 2003
  • A Soldier's Death   from Jessica Lane, Oct 1, 2003
  • nixon cesar was brilliant   from maxine, Dec 20, 2003

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