Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Goldstar, Ohio

Emotionally draining ‘GOLDSTAR, OHIO’ at CPT

Being in the audience opening night at the world premiere of ‘GOLDSTAR, OHIO’ at Cleveland Public Theatre was a surreal experience. Many of those in the sold out crowd were wearing pictures or badges with the facial images of members of the 325th Marine unit who were killed in the Iraq war during the first week of August, 2005.

‘GOLDSTAR, OHIO’ is a play based on interviews conducted with the families of the fallen marines. Four families continued to speak to Michael Tisdale, the interviewer and author of the play for two-and-a-half years after the original in-take of information. They are the center of the script. The result is an in-time and personal revelation which, at times, becomes emotionally draining.

The first act lays the foundation of what happened. The second act, reveals reactions to and experiences following the killed Marines bodies arriving home.

Unfortunately, the play is at least forty-five minutes too long. It’s too bad that most of the excess is in the second act. But, it is also there that the words of families twist the heart. Jill Levin speaks words which rip into George W. Bush and his failed policy of taking the country into a senseless war which has resulted in over 4000 American deaths and multiple mental and physical injuries. I can’t perceive anyone sitting through that speech and not be repulsed by the actions of this administration and all those who support and supported the Iraq war. As the script states, “The casualties and fatalities of war will affect our communities for years to come.”

The cast, who play numerous roles, is universally excellent. This is a unit cast performing as a unified team. Applause to Jill Levin, Anne McEvoy, Dana Hart, Justin Tatum, Sarah Marcus, Bob Goddard, Casey Spindler, and Chuck Tisdale for a job well done.

Some might fear that the play may be too graphic. Be aware that there are no events that show the actual deaths. In addition, there is comedy that relieves the stress.

Kudos to Director Andy Paris, who, in his initial directing experience, did a masterful job. His stage pictures were involving. The creative use of the set was symbolically strong. Bows to Trad Burns for both the set and lighting design.

Capsule judgement: “GOLDSTAR, OHIO,’ in spite of its excessive length, is a compelling and meaningful presentation. It’s a go see!