It’s one thing to fight for your country and it seems to be quite another coming back home. In the forthright and eye opening new docu-drama ReENTRY by Emily Ackerman and KJ Sanchez, who has also directed this fine piece with military precision, we get a hands on experience as to what it is like to be a Marine fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and the difficulties that arise when they reenter a life that has become foreign to them.
If the monologues ring true that is because this one act play is based on the interviews with those who served, ranging in rank from private up to colonel as and those who love them – sisters, mothers and friends.
They enlist. They go. They serve. They kill. They return. Serve again and again and then they are finally allowed to return home – “with all the life sucked out of them”.
It’s a reality check for those of us who remain at home, having wars filtered through Hollywood and video games; focusing on Skateboarding, American Idol or The Nanny Diaries while men and women are having to cope with what they have been through and what is expected of them post deployment.
The production is fast paced and fluid, using wire mesh lockers on wheels to enhance the feeling of peering into the warlike atmosphere. It’s a very in your face production by Two River Theater Company being presented at Urban Stages through March 7th. And it is powerful. Growing in intensity as the characters release and vent their feelings.
Joseph Harrell, as the Commanding Officer, is perfect. A Marine veteran who served as a drill instructor, he brings the authenticity needed to get your attention from the very beginning. He has the nerve and the presence and the hurt radiating from his inner soul that makes ReENTRY so riveting.
The anecdotes are moving, chilling, stressful, angry, sometimes funny, but always focused on how a person can become immune to the horrors of war and how they deal with that which you cannot explain nor wish to do so.
The other excellent members of the cast are Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris (a compassionate Mom), PJ Sosko/John (falling apart from post traumatic stress disorder but never going over the brink), Sheila Tapia (a fine Marine wondering why those “thanking” other marines cannot imagine a woman doing the same job) and Bobby Moreno combat-vet teenage brother of John who gives a very innocent and tough portrayal of a guy who wants to serve his country, have a few beers and mingle with the chicks). A finer cast would be hard to enlist. www.urbanstages.org Photo Credit: Michael Portantiere