Most people will be familiar with the work from the hugely successful 1992 film version starring Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and Jack Nicholson, but the play has also proved a big hit with audiences, running for nearly 500 performances on Broadway.
[Playwright Aaron] Sorkin got the idea for the play from his sister who had been a military lawyer who defended a marine over a ‘hazing’ incident in which a fellow marine had almost been killed.
Keegan’s production of A Few Good Men is directed by Jeremy Skidmore (who previously directed Glengarry Glen Ross for the company ) and the cast features Keegan artistic director Mark Rhea in the role of base commander Colonel Nathan Jessep.
The military establishment is personified in the vivid, formidable figure of Colonel Jessep who epitomises the macho, military mindset. Mark Rhea tells me what’s it like to play the role.
“I think Jessep believes in his way of running his unit and as an actor I believe he is right,” he says. “The play is awesome because when we did it in the US people were on the fence on who to side with because without the Jessep types in the military the country is a little less safe. His true weakness is the cover-up. I do not think of Jack Nicholson at all – I just lay it out there as I see it and how Jeremy wanted me to play him.”
“He wanted to make it clear from the beginning that it was not the Tom Cruise film so he cast an Iranian-American actor in the role of Kaffee,” [Rhea] says.”
The play has a much larger cast than Keegan normally tour to Ireland with, and Rhea acknowledges it is a big challenge.
“I just had this idea in my head that seeing all those US military costumes on stage in Ireland would be impressive to see. I also thought of Mike Diskin and how he would have been watering at the mouth to have the show here and we’re dedicating the run here to his memory.”
Away from their touring activities, these are also exciting times for Keegan in its Washington home base. The company is carrying out major renovations of its Church Street Theatre…
“The groundbreaking work has already started,” Rhea tells me. “The big building stuff is about to happen right as we leave for Ireland so I’m a tad stressed just now!”
No doubt Keegan will see the endeavour through successfully just as it does with its theatre productions.