Aadyam, had the debut show of their fifth season, with a cracking production of the iconic play A Few Good Men, at St. Andrews auditorium this past weekend. The Aditya Birla Group have really to be commended for their continued support of good theatre as year after year Mumbai audiences have been privileged to see some great theatre under the aegis of Aadyam. Their fifth season also promises some memorable productions.
A Few Good Men is an explosive military courtroom drama, that is inspired by true events. The script has been written by Aaron Sorkin, who also did the screenplay for the award winning 1992 film of the same name, which starred Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. This stage adaptation has been quite brilliantly directed by Nadir Khan, who seems to have directed a play for each of Aadyam’s five seasons!
The Story and Acting
A Few Good Men starts out by being a trial of two US Navy marine officials, Harold Dawson and Louden Downey, who have been accused of murdering a fellow colleague William Santiago, in their naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. However, in due course, thanks to the efforts of the team of defence lawyers Lt. Daniel Kaffee, Sam Weinberg and Lt. Cdr. Joanne Galloway, the trial escalates into becoming a court martial of the commander of the naval base, Col. Nathan Jessep, as they uncover a high level conspiracy to hide the truth, in the course of their defence of the two marines.
The story highlights the inherent flaw of a system that rewards following orders ‘no-questions-asked’, and the potential culpability of those executing the orders. It makes for a gripping play but there is certainly a lot of work involved for the director and actors in order to bring it to life, as this play is intrinsically very dialogue based. Perhaps it was for this reason, that it took this reviewer a while to really get into the play. However, once that was done, this version by Nadir Khan turned out to be truly riveting. Khan has ensured that his actors are of the highest acting caliber. His lead actors Neil Bhoopalam as Daniel Kaffee and Rajit Kapur as Col. Nathan Jessep are both outstanding and they seem to effortlessly slip into their roles till they end up becoming the characters themselves. Rajit is most powerful in the final court martial denouement, when he says the iconic line, “you can’t handle the truth”. Both Bhoopalam and Ira Dubey (Galloway), are spot on as the defence lawyers. The rest of the ensemble cast of , Danish Hussain, Ashwin Mushran, Tavish Bhattacharya, Junaid Khan, Sukant Goel, Kenny Desai, Siddharth Kumar, Suresh Venkat are equally effective in their respective roles.
Dhruti Hamlai And Juhie Gupta’s dynamic set design is quite extraordinary. With just a few reversible screens and slats, and clever lighting tricks, the audience is transported to where they need to be. Pallavi Patel’s costumes must have involved a lot of research as well, since the American Navy uniforms had to be absolutely accurate, in using the correct colours, badges and stripes. Kaizad Gherda’s music also helped to build the tension and tempo of the events unfolding on stage. Despite the slow pace of the first act, the play builds up in due course with some powerful scenes and others that are infused with wit and humour and ultimately ends up being a really taut production.
This play has been produced by Devika Shahani’s Dragon Rose Project. Thankfully, there are more shows of this gripping drama planned at Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, in the very near future. A not to be missed show!