A young Iraqi dies mysteriously on a construction site guarded by U.S. soldiers while a young black soldier stands under a single light talking to his mama, praying for her help. "It's night," he tells her, "and I'm covered in blood and I'm thinking, 'What the fuck am I doing here?'" That mystery - as well as the fate of the young Iraqi - is at the heart of Sean Christopher Lewis' Militant Language, now on stage at the Bang and the Clatter's Sometimes in the Silence Theater.Ê
Several cutting-edge, anti-establishment theaters jumped on this script when it began making the rounds prior to the November election. BNC here in Cleveland and the Halcyon Theatre in Chicago were the sites for a "rolling world premiere" that began at the Know Theatre in Cincinnati last October. At this stage of its development, Militant Language has more to offer politically than dramatically.Ê
Too many of the play's insights arrive "special delivery" in poetic monologues that have no connection to the play's external reality.
Ironically, the message that war is incomprehensible needs to be grounded in a stronger sense of time and place. Physical boundaries are entirely missing from this piece, where characters wander in and out of unnamed locations seemingly free to do anything anywhere they choose. Ê
A young and energetic cast gives it their all under the direction of Daniel Taylor. Jocelyn Roueiheb is particularly memorable as the villager who comes searching for the missing Najir. Michael May makes a powerful Goop, although his age and experience throw the cast off balance. Joshua Davis, Scott Thomas and Raina Semivan bring energy and innocence to the roles of the young soldiers. Rick Bowling plays the stereotypical Captain Crane with a little too much volume for the intimate playing space - although he makes it easy to understand why things have gone so wrong on the construction site.