An 18-year-old marine is hazed to death on the U.S. outpost at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Is it an accidental excess or murder? Does responsibility lie with the two gung ho marines accused of the crime or their disciplinarian superior officers? To find out, three witty defense lawyers–“a pushy broad, a smart Jew, and a Harvard mouth”–wage legal war against the rigid, right-wing, religious-fanatic top brass of the marine base. Guess who wins? Aaron Sorkins entertaining, slickly crafted courtroom drama, a Broadway hit playing here in a top-flight touring production, uses clashes of egos and attitudes to bluntly raise provocative issues, including the self-justifying arrogance of power and the complacency of a society that assigns its security to people whom it distrusts for the very obsessiveness that brings them to their jobs. (It’s telling that the play is set in 1986, the same time that marine officer Oliver North was serving as point man for illegal policy planned with the approval of higher authorities.) Standouts in the ensemble include Michael O’Keefe as a flip, self-doubting white defense attorney; Keith Diamond as his black client, an accused murderer driven by duty to “unit, Corps, God, country”; John Ortiz as the Hispanic youth whose death launches the story; Jordan Lage as an uptight prosecutor, and Alyson Reed as O’Keefe’s female cocounsel, tensely trying to measure up in a masculine environment without surrendering her identity or her integrity. Don Scardino’s crisp direction effectively guides the audience through the action’s swift shifts between past and present, and the ritual displays of military marches and chants add visceral power to the slick and sometimes didactic script. Shubert Theatre, through March 8 (22 W. Monroe, 902-1500). Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Wednesdays, 2 and 7:30 PM; Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 2 and 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $15-$40.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Joan Marcus.