“A Few Good Men”: Murder of a marine

Engrossing play: A scene from “A Few Good Men”

Engrossing play: A scene from “A Few Good Men”

The two remarkable aspects of “A Few Good Men”, presented by Dragon Rose Project under the auspices of Aadyam Theatre at Kamani Auditorium, are uniformly superb acting and an ingeniously conceptualised set. A court room drama, the production sees the unfolding of the tragic theme of the murder of a marine in the name of security and military discipline. As the truth about the murder is gradually revealed, the atmosphere becomes tense and full of suspense.

Adapted by Aaron Sorkin for the stage from his film of the same title, the play is set in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. In this base, William Santiago is posted as marine. Unable to cope with hard and inhuman working conditions, he seeks his transfer. Before he could be relieved of his duties, his body is discovered. Two fellow marines are accused of murdering him. Three lawyers are provided to defend the accused in the military court with Lt. Daniel A. Kaffee to lead the team. Initially, he seems to be least enthusiastic about the case and is careless. However, he is constantly goaded by one of his associate Lt. CDR. Joanne Alloway to work hard and study law seriously and go into the bottom of the murder case. All this is not that simple as the top hierarchy of military establishment wants to believe. As the legal proceedings begin in the military court, Kaffee gets seriously involved in the case, doing homework with earnestness with his team. As two marines stand in the witness box, it is widely believed that they will be declared guilty.

Meanwhile, Kaffee feels sympathy for Santiago. He finds it difficult to obtain facts about the case while talking with Col. Nathan Jessep, a highly arrogant officer who always considers himself responsible for national security and maintaining discipline in the armed forces. Lt. Col. Mathew Markinson knows truth about the murder. He feels the pricks of his conscience but he is timid and in his guilt he commits suicide. In the absence of a key witness, the defence team of lawyers find it hard to secure justice to their clients.

Finally, appears Col. Nathan Jessep as the witness, full of airs, his every gesture and style of speech revealing his narcissistic outlook. He looks at the lawyers and even the judge with superiority complex. Displaying physical alacrity and mental alertness, defence lawyer Lt. Kaffee provokes him and questions him in forceful voice, attacking his ego as a self-styled defender of much needed discipline in the armed forces. He admits he had issued "Code Red" order against Santiago.

In fact, "Code Red" order is an extra judicial violent punishment given to a soldier whom the officer considers a serious offender of discipline, who could not be prosecuted in a military court.

Set design, conceptualised by Juhi Gupta, deserves special mention for exploring space horizontally and vertically. The dramatic action continues to be transferred to different locales. The military court has several sessions to cross examine witnesses and arguments of lawyers.

Smooth transition

The set ensure the shifting of the action from one locale to another with a number of exit and entry points in a smooth way, maintaining the tempo and rhythm of the production. The dark, grim, tense moods are reinforced by the use of shades of grey, black and steel. Without disturbing the structure high up the upstage on a platform we watch Lt. Col. Markinson committing suicide feeling unable to face the court to reveal the truth. The image is projected in the dim light to accentuate the dark face of severe and inhuman military discipline. The audience views this sequence with bated breath.

Rajit Kapur is suitably cast as Col. Nathan Jessep. He delivers his dialogue in a booming voice, creating an aura of a narcissistic personality. Neil Bhoopalam as Lt. Daniel A. Kaffee, the defence lawyer, gradually transforms his carefree lawyer into a lawyer with keen legal insight and art of cross examination. While cross-examining Col. Jessep, he becomes the cynosure of all eyes, forcing Col. Jessep to admit his extralegal and inhuman act. Ira Dubey as lawyer Lt. CDR Joanne Galloway combines her portrait with intensity and silent persistence to bring out truth.

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 11:47:29 pm |