Mary Arrchie Theatre presents THE BRIG.
Most people have seen the award-winning 1992 movie, “A Few Good Men.” They remember the iconic scene when Jack Nicholson says the immortal words, ‘You can’t handle the truth.’
THE BRIG is *the truth.* Playwright Kenneth H. Brown was a marine. And in 1950, Brown spent 30 days in the brig for the violation ‘absence without official leave.‘ Brown recreates the military detention in this expose. It’s almost the prequel to “A Few Good Men” as we watch the emasculation of these individuals. These faux prisoners are beaten, berated and broken into submission. They are learning to respond to orders without thinking or acting. No matter how minor their infraction was, these men are being deconstructed and rebooted to be marine robots.
THE BRIG is more of an experience than a play. It might even be considered a sit-down-promenade. The audience’s seats are scattered throughout the makeshift brig. Scenic Designer Jimmy Jagos lines up the barracks with uniform bunk beds. He sections areas off with barbed wire fences. The walls are camouflaged with military issued paint. The audience chooses their adventure vantage point: alongside the wall, in the cage, or at a center-of-the-room table. Three officers mingle among the guests. Sleeping men are visible on the bunk beds. The action starts quietly as the officers casually banter together about drinking and whoring. Then, their small talk is over as they go to work tormenting their captors into obedience.
THE BRIG is a day-in-the-life-of. We see what an ordinary day in the brig looks like. And it’s anything but ordinary. Under the expert direction of Jennifer Markowitz, this show is one intense mother f#cker. Officers scream commands. Marines respond in well-trained uniformity. The orchestration of these military maneuvers is phenomenal. It’s like being *in* the military zone! Within inches of my seat, men are marching at a high knee jog. I can hear their heavy breathing. I can see their sweat-soaked faces. I can feel their humiliation. I have to choke back a sob because maybe I can’t handle the truth. The dehumanizing of these marines in service to our country is ‘grotesque and incomprehensible’ to me, but ‘saves lives!’
THE BRIG is an unrivaled virtual reality. The ensemble exhausts themselves in the synchronized physicality of their roles. They are in great shape and we get to see it all. There is full frontal nudity x 8. At the risk of further objectifying these men, I’ll just end with ooh-la-la.
Running Time: Sixty minutes with no intermission
Angel Island, 735 N. Sheridan
Written by Kenneth H. Brown
Directed by Jennifer Markowitz
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 7pm
Thru May 26th