By Byrne Harrison
Is war really hell, or is it the abandonment of one's moral code during a time of war that is the true hell; the one that can never be outrun? Takeo Rivera takes on this weighty topic in his play Goliath, produced as part of the Poetic Theater Productions' Poetic License festival.
David (Nabil Vinas) is an impulsive young man who isn't really sure of himself. Bullied by his perpetually disappointed father (Kenneth Heaton) and pampered by his mother (Monique Paige) who has never gotten over his premature birth, he joins the army to fight for his country in Iraq, leaving behind his new wife (Natalia Duong). He wasn't driven by patriotism really or even an attempt to live up to his Viet Nam veteran father's expectations, it seems more of a series of little things leads to his decision.
Goliath shows the effect this has on him, his wife, his family, and for the most part it is what one would expect. But David doesn't have a typical experience in Iraq. Caught up in bloodlust and peer pressure, he succumbs to his most base and appalling instincts, viciously murdering a family of Iraqi civilians. Even when he is home, he is haunted by this event, so haunted that he feels completely alone, even though he is the one who is cutting off his friends and family.
Goliath features an excellent cast, particularly Nabil Vinas as David. He easily shifts between the haunted, post-war David, and the somewhat discontent but happy younger David. Also excellent are Samantha Cooper as David's fiery lesbian sister and Edgar Eguia as his wild best friend.
The interesting thing about Goliath is the way it plays with language (as one would expect of a show in a festival called Poetic License). The use of language and chorus is amazing and speaks volumes both about Rivera's writing and director Alex Mallory's excellent feel for the material. The use of poetic language and chorus and repetition in the dialogue brings a sense of heightened drama to the play. It's a very nice touch and one that Mallory exploits to great effect.
This is the second production of Goliath that I have seen, and I suspect it will not be the last. As with the earlier production, this one began with a reading of poetry written by current and former members of the armed services as part of the Warrior Writers Project. It was a very nice touch, and sets the stage for Goliath perfectly.
Produced by Poetic Theater Productions
Written by Takeo Rivera
Directed by Alex Mallory
Producer: Jeremy Karafin
Stage Manager: Sarah Livant
Lighting Designer: Brad Peterson
Fight Choreographer: Jim Cairl
Costume Consultant: Sydney Gallas
Scenic Coordinator: Kylie McMinn
Dramaturg: Becca Poccia
Featuring: Monique Paige (Catherine), Kenneth Heaton (Paul), Samantha Cooper (Sandy), Edgar Equia (Johnny), Dontonio Demarco (Gabriel), Natalia Duong (Maria), Nabil Vinas (David)
Closed January 8th, 2012