Monday, November 26, 2018

BOOGIEBAN, compelling, emotionally gripping at none-too-fragile

According to the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study, “roughly 11 percent of veterans who served in Vietnam, approximately 271,000 veterans of the war, continue to suffer from clinically PTSD symptoms.” 

PTSD is defined as “a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or severe psychological shock, typically involving disturbance of sleep and constant vivid recall of the experience, with dulled responses to others and to the outside world.”  Common signifiers of PTSD are flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about an event or series of events.

D. C. Fidler, the author of “Boogieban,” is a psychiatrist.  He has had years of experience working with those who suffer from PTSD, says of his play, “We have always known how to send our young to war, known to welcome them back with parades, garlands, and trumpets. We have never known how to bring home their hearts and souls.”

He further states, “The story has strong elements about war … but is not a play of war. It is a play of the journey that two men from two different military generations take together, a journey they take to that mystic place where hearts alter. I hope audiences find that mystic change as they too share in this journey.”

The tale centers on two people, Lawrence Caplan, a Vietnam War veteran now working as a military psychiatrist. Before retiring, Caplan must assess one last soldier, Spc. Jason Wynsky, who, during his first session with Caplan insists that he is "good to go" back to his unit in Afghanistan.  Caplan soon discovers, that Jason, in spite of his glib and often insightful comments, is tortured by nightmares, flashbacks, and a “secret.”

The young soldier's stories have an unexpected effect, lifting Caplan's personal “amnesia” for his experiences in Vietnam, rekindling the trauma of the loss of his son, and spotlighting his conflicted marriage.

Together, the two launch on separate, yet parallel journeys that will change them forever.  And, maybe, even change many of the members of the audience.

The script is well written and filled with realistic and poetic speeches including such thought provokers as “The brain cannot handle truth” and “You are the author of your nightmares.” 

None-too-fragile’s production is spell-binding.  Besides the verbalizing of lines, the sounds of war, and appropriate musical segues between scenes, the only sound in the theatre during the close to 2-hour play without intermission, was the audible sobbing of many audience members.

Director Sean Derry finely hones every emotional level of the script.  The production’s meticulous pacing does not allow attention to wane.  The action is highlighted by pauses for effect and emphasis for importance.  The sound effects underline lines and emphasize the cacophony of emotions.  The well-selected between-scenes music clearly bridges the ideas of one segment into the next.  The ideas are reinforced by effective lighting.

The acting is outstanding.

Travis Teffner gives what must be one of the best local performances of the year as Jason.  His ability to play comedy and high drama for perfect effect is breathtaking.  The emotional roller coaster he goes through must be like having a nervous breakdown every performance. This is one very, very talented young actor!

Teffner is perfectly balanced by David Peacock as Lt. Col. Lawrence Caplan.  He puts on the character in the first scene and never takes the persona off.  Peacock becomes Caplan.  Caplan is Peacock!

Capsule judgment:  With its must see production of “Boogieban,” none too fragile again proves that it is one of the area’s finest theaters.  This gem of a production house expands to the national scene when this staging moves to Chicago and then to New York with the same cast and production values!    

For tickets for “Boogieban,” which runs through December 8, 2018, call 330-671-4563 or go to