The Horrors Of War.
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“BOOGIEBAN” is a play that tugs at your heart in many respects… the play lays out the horrors of war, its victims and the after effects of being in war. We first meet Lt. Col. Lawrence Caplan (David Peacock), he is a Military Psychologist will all the degrees and polish to go with his rank and profession. His twenty five years as a man serving his fellow soldiers is about to come to an end in a week. Caplan has one more patient to see before he retires, he must determine if this young man is fit to go back into combat.
Set in a modest office, the play unfolds brilliantly, “BOOGIEBAN” has many subtleties that makes this play go well beyond it’s surface. Writer D.C. Fidler gives us two people from different backgrounds who serve a common purpose in that they both protect democracy at all costs. Caplan, who served in Vietnam and Spc. Jason Wynsky (Travis Teffner) who is serving in Afghanistan. Although it was Caplan’s calling to serve in the military as his father did, he is more hardened as too what war is and how it can destroy lives. Jason sees the military as a way out of his poor upbringing. Although Jason is hardened to war as well, he has a more sinister view of the world and God. Both Fidler’s writing and Sean Derry’s superb direction, we see and feel the tension between the two actors as Caplan battles to find out just what it is that makes Wynsky tick. Jason on the other hand knows that he is out matched when it comes to Caplan’s brain and his cunning to extract details from Jason.
Throughout the play we hear Caplan give his thoughts directly to us, as such, we understand both him and the situation of being both an analyst and a soldier. Peacock explains that the life in the military is horrific on many levels; the Dear John letters, soldiers dying in other soldiers arms, and the recurring nightmares after they return from battle. He tells us about his own son dying in Afghanistan and that PTSD is all but a death sentence. Caplan tells us about his wife and daughter, what his life has been since Vietnam and we realize that he never really left their; that his success in what he does is because he is able to relive and keep close to the once hell that he lived in the battlefield when his guts were blown out.
In” BOOGIEBAN” the music is as much of the play as the words are. Often poignant songs leave us melancholic. How can these two people who risked there lives be so tormented? In Jason’s case he drinks to forget, he acts out against authority, the very authority who gives him his marching orders. Whereas Caplan accepts his life, Jason hates his. Caplan sees the beauty in the world and Jason only sees the ugliness.
Both the sound design and the lighting are masterful in this play. From the flashbacks to the combat sounds of helicopters overhead, Sean Derry makes to feel that we are present and also are going through battle with these great actors. Well staged at the beautiful 13th Street Repertory Theater, the action ebbs and flows for the entire 110 intermission-less minutes. The similarities that both have and the differences are smartly executed throughout. The way the two bond, the way they both have mutual respect for one another, we wonder what if anything Caplan will do to help this spiritually wounded man.
“BOOGIEBAN” (a phrase used to describe the Taliban on the move), is a play that is more about its deep intricacies than the simplistic that is right in front of us. The former is brought out in a two hander at the end of this play. Both intense and overwhelming we see right in front of us a no holes barred PTSD episode. Leaving the audience both crying and stunned, we grapple with the comfortableness of the remnants of war and its horror that it leaves behind. Derry shows us front and center what it means to be a soldier.