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Infantryman in the Wardrobe: Words of War

Reviewed by Lovell Estell III
The Complex Theatres
Through June 24

RECOMMENDED

“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.”

JFK’s words neatly exemplify the substance of Keith Galloway’s harrowing meditation on one of humankind’s oldest and ugliest pursuits. Consisting of 25 scenes and vignettes, and drawing material from a broad variety of sources, Infantryman in the Wardrobe: Words of War chronicles the courage, sacrifice and carnage of World War I, World War II and the Vietnam debacle, as well as the loss and suffering of those on the home front.

Setting the tone, the play begins with a grim dramatic recitation of Wilfred Owen’s poem “1914” while the ensemble, portraying war-weary civilians, forms a haunting procession across the stage.

As horrifying as the subject matter is, there are some lighter moments. “We’re the Girls” is a lively ditty performed by Jo Galloway, Gretchen Goode, and Tuesday Grant that touts the jobs American women were slogging away at during World War II, while in a dance number called “Square Dance,”, the cast wears death masks while performing a do-si-do.

Jo Galloway’s direction and choreography are effective, and the show is sadly relevant and thought-provoking, particularly in these deeply troubled times. The finale is every bit as gripping as the introduction: images of nuclear detonations flash on screen, and Chris Chapman and Chris Worley recite an updated version of Martin Niemӧller’s “First they Came.” Rounding out the cast is Connor Keene.

 

Complex Theatres (Ruby Theatre) 6476 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/4519 Through June 24. Running Time: One hour no intermission.


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