“A Few Good Men”impresses with its emotion and power



Cassandra Lieu

Villanova Student Theatre blew the audience away once again, this time with its production of “A Few Good Men.” The play follows Daniel Kaffee, a military lawyer who uncovers a case of high-level exploitation while defending two Marines accused of murder. Having never seen the movie version before, I came into this without any preconceptions. VST did not fail to create a lasting first impression. Raw emotions laid out on the stage, there were a couple of times in the play when the actors tugged at my heartstrings.

Vincent Mocco’s performance as Daniel Kaffee, in particular, stood out to me. Initially, Kaffee, a lackadaisical lieutenant and lawyer, gave off the shallow, frat boy vibe but Mocco successfully brought out the more profound parts of the character. Without overdramatizing the character’s struggles, Mocco reveals to us Kaffee’s insecurities of living in the shadow of a father’s legacy and his undying belief in truth and justice, all while preserving Kaffee’s lighter and more humorous side. He also plays nicely off of Thomas Boland’s Sam Weiner, the goofy yet supportive lieutenant who provides an alternate view to the murder case, and Grace McDermott’s Joanne Galloway, the brazen lieutenant determined to prove the innocence of the defendants. Both are legal assistants of Daniel Kaffee who establish themselves as more than simply sidekicks to Kaffee.

Other notable performances include Isaac Elder’s Nathan Jessup, the base commander of Guantanamo Bay who unnerved the audience with his resolve, and Eamon Stuckey’s poignant performance as Matthew Markinson, a guilt — stricken officer who commits suicide because he failed to do the right thing and protect a soldier under his command. We also cannot forget Erin Kelly’s Henrietta Dawson, who strikes a balance between expressing the resolve of a soldier and expressing vulnerability in the face of a situation out of her control, as well as Giannina Guzman’s Louden Downey, a soldier who simply wanted to serve her country more than anything else.

The set was not the most intricate, but the performers truly made this show shine. Perhaps one of most chilling scenes was the showdown between Kaffee and Jessup, where Jessup exclaims that Kaffee cannot handle the reality of the world. 

Jessup’s self-defense brings up legitimate questions about morality, especially for those who serve. In an occupation where obeying orders saves lives when should a person listen to his or her conscience instead? More importantly, in a world where violence is the norm and the only way to protect yourself is to arm yourself, can a good man truly exist?

My only critique of the performance was the choreography of the show. Of course, it may be difficult to add choreography to a play based on military conduct and takes place in a majority of the time in a courtroom, an interrogation room or an office. However, there were moments in the play where I believed the characters could be doing more than just sitting down or standing still. 

Also, as someone who is not as familiar with military vocabulary as others, it would be nice to be provided with some sort of reference of these terms. 

Overall, I found VST’s production of “A Few Good Men” to be poignant and profound with a dash of levity. Such a performance requires vulnerability from the performers. Considering VST’s last production, “It Runs in the Family,” a hysterical comedy, I look forward to the organization’s next production and expect nothing less than a stellar performance.