A Few Good Men lives up to its reputation in Pittsburgh

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Public Theater
Aaron Sorkin’s A Few Good Men first hit the stage in 1989, loosely based on real-life events three years prior.

Colleen Hammond | Opinions Editor

10/10/19

The honor, glory and horrific secret practices of the U.S. military are brought to life in Aaron Sorkin’s thrilling military drama, A Few Good Men.

While many feared the Pittsburgh Public Theater’s production could not live up to the 1992 star-studded film, they were immediately proven wrong by the whirlwind of talent on stage.

The transition from stage to screen and back again is often a difficult one filled with awkward scene jumps and poor attempts at character mimicry. This production avoided all those problems.

Each scene change was attacked with military precision. Instead of using standard crossfades and a technical crew to move set pieces, various soldiers enacted training drills and sang marching songs as they jogged and quickly transformed the prison cells of Guantanamo Bay to a lavish military courtroom with ease. These smaller moments set the tone for the entire show and added immense production value. Every second of this show mirrored the discipline and meticulousness of the Marine Corps.

In addition to the spectacular drills and scene changes, the cast masterfully captured the essence of the beloved film without directly copying the voices, acting styles and physical manifestation of the characters. The original film cast featured an extremely famous cast including Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, and many more. It can be a tall order to ask actors to fill those shoes and an even taller order to ask audiences to forget the film actors they have loved for decades. Luckily, this cast does not disappoint. Each actor honors the work of those who came before them while placing their own unique mark on the characters.

This job is made significantly easier by Sorkin’s remarkable writing. Known for his success as the acclaimed writer of The West Wing, The Social Network and the current Broadway adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird, Sorkin shows off his writing prowess through a wide variety of multi-dimensional characters. He is careful not to isolate his characters into a single military stereotype. Instead, he approaches them as real people in impossible situations. As is characteristic of Sorkin’s writing, the characters are guided by varying, yet fervent set of morals. From there, Sorkin crafts astounding conflict, putting every character to the ultimate test of his or her abilities.

A Few Good Men is no exception. Sorkin brilliantly uses the rigid morality and values of Marines in conflict with the sole female character’s desire for truth and justice to create this stunning play.

Although the cast is predominantly male, Sorkin does not ignore the only female character nor does he make her appear weak. Joanne Galloway (Alison Weisgall) shows tremendous dedication to the truth as she defies the powers that be without reservation or fear. Weisgall’s portrayal of Galloway is sensational and empowering. Despite being more petite than the domineering military men she shares the stage with, Galloway stands tall and proves herself a true hero in this plot. As the title suggests, the play is filled with a handful of good men, but the show is stolen by the one valiant woman.

After the triumphant ending and roaring curtain call, the cast made the outstanding decision to honor the members of the cast and audience who have served in the U.S. military. This beautifully summarized the play by reminding all in attendance why so many men and women choose to fight for their country: the pursuit of truth and the preservation of justice.

A Few Good Men is worth every penny. From the outstanding cast to the magnificent scenic design and overall message, this show is a must-see and will continue its run at the O’Reilly Theater until Oct. 13.

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