Word for Word Presented a Powerful Production of “You Know When the Men Are Gone”
A Powerful Production “You Know When the Men Are Gone”
Word for Word Performing Arts Company has been one of the shinning lights of the Bay Area Theatre World. It is an collective of actors whose mission is to tell stories with elegant theatricality, stage performances of classic and contemporary fiction. The invaluable troupe stage stories exactly as written except for being interpreted through the skills of the actors and directors. Founded in 1993 by Susan Harloe and JoAnne Winter, the company believes in the power of the short story to provide an evening of entertainment to their audience.
The irreplaceable company just staged Siobhan Fallon two short stories “The Last Stand “ and “Gold Star” under the umbrella title of “You Know When the Men Are Gone”. (We saw the production on February 15)These two one act dramas gave us an intimate look of life on an American military base through the eyes of the families of American soldiers deployed to Iraq. The author of these stories is a wife of an active duty U.S. Army officer who has served multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
”The Last Stand” which was beautifully directed by Joel Mullennix tells of 21 year old Kit (Chad Deverman), a soldier who had survived an IED in Iraq and returns home with a severely injured foot. During his tour of duty, the one thing that has Kit going was the list he formed of all the ways in which his wife Helena (Roselyn Hallett) filled his life with the relaxations absent from his life in Iraq. However things are not as rosy as he likes because Helena has become more distant, choosing to leave messages rather than talk to him during his long recovery in the military hospital. She is just tired of military life and his shattered leg means that the military can’t afford for him to quit the service.
Chad Deverman gave an intense performance as Kit. It was beautiful aware performance giving subtle shades of meaning and feeling to the character. Roselyn Hallett was compelling as his wife Helena. She gives the character susceptibility and rigid determination. Ryan Tasker gave a resounding portrayal as the straight-laced, no nonsense Crawford, Kit’s best friend and drinking buddy. Arwen Anderson, Marilet Martinez and Armando McClain gave convincing performances as soldiers and civilians.
”Gold Star” directed strikingly by Amy Kossow was a 20 minute first-rate drama centered on a widow of Eddie (Ryan Tasker), a sergeant who burning body saved Kit’s life. (Arwen Anderson). She was grieving because Eddie had just one more month in his tour of duty in Iraq. There was a beautiful scene in which Kit (Chad Deverman) gives an awkward visit to the widow that deepens her resentment. Arwen Anderson gave a powerful tour de force of angry, unfocussed grief and desperation of life. Ryan Tasker also gave a finely drawn performance as Eddie standing melancholy vigil over his widow. Chad Deverman presented a fine performance once again as Kit in an outstanding cameo.
Joel Mullennix and Amy Kossow used a splendid style of theatrically with the ensemble just by imaginatively employing base objects such as boxes as beds, a car, a mechanical bull on Jacqueline Scott’s symbolic, American flag like set. All six of the actors thanks to the great direction of the two directors capably fill out other characters including military units and large crowds. Although both of Fallon’s short stories were not writing for the stage they have proved fruitful ground for the imaginative minds of Word for Work.
“You Know Where the Men Are Gone” closed February 14th at Z Space, 450 Florida Street, San Francisco. For upcoming productions go to www.zspace.org