Caging the eagle

Aftermath of an Eagle

Written and directed by Alan L. Reed
Rampage Theater
The Fools Company Space
Non-union production (closed)
Review by Maya T. Amis

Aftermath of an Eagle is about a soldier who survives a bloodbath in Vietnam. It takes place in a VA hospital, where the patient's body has been healed, but his mind is still not whole. The staff fights with and for him as they attempt to bring him back to emotional life, and the net effect is engrossing and disturbing. The play was inspired by the story of a real soldier who was treated for schizophrenia after surviving the Dong Ha massacre and who eventually walked to his death on a busy highway. This is not a happy show, and as in real life, there is no pat ending, but it is a fascinating ensemble piece, filled with meaty roles.

Author/Director Alan L. Reed displayed a sure touch in directing his play. He avoided the self-indulgences common to people wearing multiple hats and kept the action focused and well-paced. He was also supremely lucky in his cast. Robert Bryson played the unfortunate soldier with verve, confusion, charisma and a touch of sex appeal. This last was necessary and appropriate, as the script demands that the lieutenant attract other cast members despite themselves. Bryson inhabited this role to a remarkable degree, which made his portrayal of insanity with flashes of lucidity all the more disturbing. All of the other actors play roles within the soldier's dream world; and, in the case of the medical staff, have to be able to move seamlessly from ``reality'' to this construct of madness. They did this with gravity and aplomb, so that the shifts were almost disorientingly smooth. Ana Parra, as the nurse, went from caring disciplinarian to lover with grace and sympathy. The doctor, too, in her quest to find the real man hiding from the past, becomes part of the soldier's world. The dignified Letitia Guillory personified with infinite humanity the frustration of a healer who cannot help her patient. Even the orderly (Joe E. Evans), who could be either a nonentity or a bad guy, was part of the team, and his somewhat irritable exterior hid another compassionate soul. The figments deliberately shifted character, personality, almost form, as the lieutenant's psychosis was revealed. Ed Harrison, the older authority figure, was particularly good at these changes. His scenes were intense and riveting. Scott Hess was oddly convincing as an oversized little boy, although, like a real child, he could be tiresome. Also in the cast were Jeff Santiago and Edgar Santiago as soldiers.

The production values were far above most Off-Off-Broadway shows. The set, by Todd Dyer, J.B. Baker, and Al Reed, was simply but very effectively dressed with draped strands of fabric, fronds, and camouflage netting forming a stylized jungle surrounding sparse institutional furniture. Duduzile Ndlovi's costumes were mostly uniforms, with a bit of the surreal thrown in. Throughout the show sound effects and music were smoothly integrated into the action by Jerrica Rosenblum. Lighting was designed by Harrison Cohen and included some nice special effects.

Box Score:
Writing 2
Directing 2
Acting 2
Set 2
Costumes 1
Lighting/Sound 2
Copyright 1996 Maya T. Amis

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