Review - A Few Good Men @ Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre

MTC open their 2012-2013 season with Aaron Sorkin's A Few Good Men - a script made famous by the film version starring Jack Nicholson. Clearly stepping into some big and well-known shoes, the cast did a great job of making the words their own. There were only a few moments where delivery felt stilted or put on, specifically and inorganically recalling other interpretations. There was a lot of shouting (yes, I know this is a play about the Marine Corps...) however not all of it felt necessary. I would have liked to see more variation in the non-Marine-shouting scenes. A woman behind me commented a few times that she missed lines as a result of this.

The minimalist set evoked both a prison and a military base, and the beautiful lighting design helped create the buildings with long corridors and cramped offices evocatively. The use of a revolving stage piece was less successful in creating this feeling; luckily this device was used less frequently as the play went on. I found myself comparing the production to another recent play-of-fim I saw - The King's Speech, on the West End - Unfortunately I found that A Few Good Men lacked a bit of the theatricality in its staging that made The King's Speech so enjoyable for me months before. At times it felt like it was staged for the stage only because there were no film cameras. Detailed work was clearly done on military protocol; the actors' physical work clearly delineated levels of power, and gave the tense, testosterone-filled atmosphere of a millitary base.

On that note, though, the play really highlighted for me the misogyny in Sorkin's text. Perhaps it was the opening image, with a straight line of actors spanning the width of the large mainstage, and only one female actor which sparked the thought. As the play went on, I couldn't help but react to the treatment Galloway takes from the others, specifically Jessop and Kaffee. Each time she absorbed the words of disdain, I shuddered. Later in the script, when Kaffee berates her to the point of tears which causes her to leave, I was appalled that she gave in for the slapstick apology he offers. What kind of message does this give?

Overall it is a fairly strong production, just not really my cup of tea.