A FEW GOOD MEN: The Marines Have Landed in Hammonton

by Jessica Martin

Roman Lupan as Kaffee, Kellie Cooper as Jo Galloway and Phil Imbesi as Sam Weinberg. Background Erich Schaal as Downey and James Eckstein as Downey in 2nd and Vine Players' production of A FEW GOOD MEN.

Aaron Sorkin’s emotion-packed military courtroom drama, A FEW GOOD MEN, has only one performances left in the Eagle Theatre in Hammonton. This is a pity, because it deserves to be seen by more people. This production by the Second and Vine Players has more than a few good men—and one good woman.

Even before the play begins, the audience can watch a wide-screen video of Marine drills, and they are not dull. Then the cast marches from the back of the theatre down the aisles to the stage, with perfect precision.

The play is based on an actual incident that occurred at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in 1986. Two Marine enlisted men, Lance Corporal Harold Dawson (James Eckstein) and Private Louden Downey (Erich Schmal) are about to stand trial for their brutal “disciplinary” hazing of another enlisted man, which resulted in his death. They state that they were only following orders for a “code red,” an unofficial policy calling for punishment of a Marine who is not willing to follow the strict discipline of the Corps.

A smart-alec Navy lawyer, Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (Roman Lupan), is assigned to defend these men. He has no courtroom experience and hopes to avoid an actual trial with a plea bargain. Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway (Kellie Cooper), assigned as his assistant, is also inexperienced in court, but she is a young woman with strong convictions, especially about justice. The two, aided by research assistant SamWeinberg (Phil Imbesi), often clash, but both know that the important thing is to find who ordered the code red and prove that he did. The case comes to trial in Washington, DC, climaxing when Kaffee confronts superior officer Colonel Nathan Jessep (Kevin Doyle).

The cast is uniformly (no pun intended) excellent; it would be difficult to single out anyone among the major characters. All are passionately dedicated to their portrayals. Under the skillful direction of Suzanne Jones, the suspense and occasional humor of the play never cease to hold the audience’s attention.

Cory Laslocky as Kendrick, Kevin Doyle as Jessep and Joe Cooper as Markinson in a scene from A FEW GOOD MEN running at the Eagle Theatre in Hammonton NJ through November 19.

The Eagle Theatre itself, a charming place with its own parking lot and “Walk of Fame,” plus the warmth and friendliness of the staff, add to a very rewarding theatrical experience.

by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Suzanne Jones
November 10-19, 2011
2nd and Vine Players
at The Eagle Theatre
208 Vine Street
Hammonton, NJ 08037

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