Handling the truth

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First Posted: 1/9/2013

What does it take to be in the military?

How murky are the waters of right and wrong as compared to the way things would be handled in the civilian world?

And, can you handle the truth?

These are some of the questions that are explored throughout A Few Good Men, a stage production that the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre is putting on over the next two weekends.

Though many may know the title from the famed 1992 movie with Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore, the story was actually on stage first, having premiered on Broadway in 1992.

The piece was written so long ago, but it’s something that’s still relevant today – a reason director Katie Dooley is excited to bring it locally.

The play is really about what it means to be a marine, to be the military, to have that persona, she said, and at what point can you challenge that? Where do the lower-ranking enlisted men’s responsibilities lie, and at what point do they have to say, ‘Wait a minute, something is wrong here?’ Or, do they just blindly follow the rules and orders they’re given from the superior officers?

A Few Good Men is a courtroom drama that tells the story of military lawyers at a court martial who uncover a high-level conspiracy in the course of defending their clients, members of the U.S. Marines who are accused of murder.

The cast includes former military members, an asset when it came to determining how certain situations would be handled and how characters would act.

Scott Colin is a former member of the Navy who served in Desert Storm and Desert Shield and was one such person to provide insight. He plays Lt. Jack Ross, USMC, a prosecutor and friend to main character Lt. Junior Grade Daniel Kaffee, JAGC, USN, played by David Giordano.

Though the military aspect certainly drew the actor to the show, it was more about writer Aaron Sorkin’s approach.

I like a good drama, so whenever a show like this comes around that you can really sink your teeth into, I’m there, he said. Sorkin is a great linguist. His dialogue is so snappy and quick and natural.

Sorkin’s creativity also provides one of the most well-known lines in movie history, shouted by Lt. Colonel Nathan Jessup, USMC, played by Lew Strunk.

Jessup is a guy who lives the Marine Corps; he’s the epitome of what you’d call a perfect Marine, Strunk said. He doesn’t see anything wrong with what he does. To him, it’s just part of the discipline.

How does Strunk feel about shouting such an emotionally driven piece of dialogue?

It’s awesome, but it’s also very nerve-racking because that’s the one line everybody knows. I’ve got to hit it perfectly. You can see it building up, the tempo is getting more and more frenzied, and then all of a sudden, it bursts.

When I tell people I’m in ‘A Few Good Men,’ the response is always the same: ‘You can’t handle the truth!’

A Few Good Men: Jan. 12, 18, 19, 8 p.m.; Jan. 13, 20, 3 p.m., Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre (537 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre). $15; $12, active/retired military with valid I.D. Reservations: 570.823.1875