Review of “Last of the Boys” at Seattle Rep by guest blogger Amanda Mitchell:
A curtain of camouflage netting overlaid with a projected American flag rises slowly to reveal one of the most amazingly hyperreal stage sets I’ve ever seen: a weathered and worn retro trailer joins a landscape of sparse foliage and rolling desolate mountains. The modest homestead also includes a few out-buildings/sheds, a collection of mismatched patio furniture and fire pit, a uniform locker and a gigantic flag pole, all upon a multi-leveled foundation of gravel and desert rock – which creates ample opportunities for interesting and dynamic movement and interactions! The two most memorable pieces of G.W. (Skip) Mercier’s brilliant scenic design, however, are a fifty-year-old Frigidaire full of beer and a full-size trash dumpster full of empty bottles, both utilized ritually by old buddies and Vietnam vets Ben (Reginald Andre Jackson) and Jeeter (humorously played by Kevin Anderson).
The two men are reunited after Ben’s father’s funeral and things start to get a little complicated when Jeeter introduces his new love, Salyer (Emily Chisholm). She has her own ties to the war but cloaks them in secrecy until she dramatically bares all. When her hardened and cynical mom Lorraine (appropriately portrayed by Kate Wisniewski) comes in search of her “delinquent daughter” some unexpected softening comes through conversation and a sea-change occurs when all four have a chance to share their personal stories and confront their ghosts from the past.
Ben Zamora’s lighting design was a bright star in this production, transforming the otherwise static (yet stunningly realistic) set into multiple dimensions of time and reality – beautiful sunrises and sunsets, moonlit shadows, glowing campfires, and ghostly yet ethereal dream states!
Set at the end of the century, Steven Dietz’s ‘Last of the Boys’ reflects on the poignant reality that nearly 35 years later our nation is still very much dealing with the grave aftermath of perhaps our most controversial conflict to date. Hug your loved ones, share your stories, catch Last Of The Boys at Seattle Repertory Theatre now through February 10, 2019.
Photo by Alan Alabastro