My Review of the Charlottesville Tryout of “A Few Good Men” 30 Years Ago

A librarian at the University of Virginia kindly scanned and emailed the review I wrote, as an undergraduate student journalist, of the pre-Broadway tryout of A Few Good Men, in September 1989.

I was prepared to cringe, but I was actually kind of proud of the lead, which applies equally to the professional production now playing at the Pittsburgh Public Theatre.

The courtroom drama now playing at the Culbreth Theatre is a grueling, double-time march through the minefield of honor, as it is conceived and practiced. A Few Good Men is both a tribute to and a harsh commentary on the unwritten, higher code that men and women sometimes follow when the security of the nation is at stake. Or when their careers are on the line.

Go see it.

Let’s be honest, this is Charlottesville, not Broadway. A professional company of New York actors and technicians has been here for weeks, working on the Grounds of the University of Virginia to launch a new play already scheduled to hit Broadway.

I got a little too conversational with the following, but I was still happy to see it again:

Scardino’s orchestrations and placements of the characters, the manipulation by lighting of a few simple set elements and the use of Marine chants as a commentary in the place of a Greek chorus combine to create a powerful and entirely appropriate atmosphere. If you saw any of the Oliver North hearings on television a couple of years ago, you’ll believe me when I tell you that North should have had Scardino direct his hearings. Who knows what effect that would have had on North’s fate, but if A Few Good Men is any indication, it would have been a hell of a show.


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