Red Right Hand: A FEW GOOD LINES & TV ON SPEED
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.

 

A FEW GOOD LINES & TV ON SPEED

Can you believe I've never seen A Few Good Men on the stage, its original form? Well, until last Saturday night. I discovered a local theater company, The Maverick Theater, was doing a run and so I dropped by for the second night's performance.

You know, I've never even read the play, though I've meant to track down a copy on multiple ocassions, I just never got around to it. As such, I don't know what sort of adjustments might have been made for this particular production. Maverick is your basic black box theater (I think in the area of 60 seats). The staging was sparse. Tables and chairs with the actors facilitating scene changes on the fly. It wasn't always a smooth change (which makes me more curious as to other stagings of the material), but most of the transitions worked nicely

Naturally, I'm sitting there not just enjoying the play but noting the differences and what-not between the play and the movie that I've seen a ridiculous number of times. What I noticed the most is that there were numerous lines in the play that when it was transformed into the film were given to someone else, unchanged. And not because the original speaker wasn't in the film.

On the one hand, one might argue that it's proof that Sorkin's characters struggle to have an individual voice. They all sound like Sorkin (though he doesn't talk like that, just check a West Wing commentary). I think maybe there's some of that, but we must not forget that that voice goes through at least two major filters before we hear it. The actor and the character. Two different things.

In the play Corporal Barnes (Noah Wyle in the movie) gets the line "Whenever we go somewhere to fight, you fellas always give us a ride." In the film it belongs to Kendrick (Kiefer Sutherland in the flick), who delivers it as a direct slight to Kaffee and his whole branch of the service. When Barnes says it, it's much more matter-of-fact and is more comedic relief than menace. Yeah, there's the way the actor delivers it, but Barnes is much lighter, down-to-earth character so even with a sounds-the-sameness on the page, they don't really sound the same if you're really reading it. That and the Barnes on this production was played very broadly comic.

The other thing is how some of the facts of the plot changed from stage to screen. A security tag is the key rather than a neat closet. Also, the flight logs exist on stage where they were scrubbed on screen. Markinson (J.T. Walsh in the film) is perhaps the most different as there is a stage scene where he adopts a disguise to get those logs. Something that never happens in the film.

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After the play was over, there was another show. The Maverick also has a cabaret style theater in addition to the black box and on Saturday nights a 11-ish, two guys (one of whom, Nathan Markaryk played Pfc. Louden Downey and looks uncannily like my friend Harkins, and no one looks like Harkins (he's like the Earth-2 Mark Harkins, even his last name is like some twisted version of MArK hARKins)) do this thing called The TV Show Show. Basically, they reenact, distort and generally mock an array of network dramas that had aired in the previous week. The shows they tackled were hit or miss. Their take on Drive or The Sopranos didn't do much for me, but ye gawds did they get me going on 24 and The Shield.

Their 24 was primarily driven by Makaryk playing everyone except Jack Bauer while the other guy played Jack. What made it funny is that the guy playing Jack doesn't watch 24 and had to be manipulated into doing the right things. That and a cute girl from the audience (forced to take on the name Sanjaya) was recruited to be Audrey Raines as best she could for not being an actress and possibly not knowing who Audrey Raines is.

The Shield was hilarious just for Makaryk's bizarre and lengthy threats of violence against other characters which I cannnot even begin to recreate here, but they were vile and hilarious.

I might go back for that from time to time.

For a small and somewhat invisible facility (you really have to know it's there. You're not going stumble over it), The maverick is really nice. The cabaret is nicely furnished in 20's art deco. I look forward to going back there for the Burlesque of Bond show which will feature live renditions of Bond themes with dancers and stuff doing live versions of Bond flick opening credits thingies.
©2016 Michael Patrick Sullivan