This Week in Theater
Directed by John DiFusco
Review by Rose Desena
When I think of War stories, I think of a bunch of old guys sitting around discussing the days when they were soldiers, and most of all, courageous heroes. One just doesn’t think of clean cut guys digging deep into their souls and expressing their fears, the emptiness and loneliness they experience during deployment, or even talking about the most emotionally destructive pain, the pain of the kill.
Tracers was conceived by John DiFusco, written by him and the original cast, United States Veterans with a story to tell. It is so strong and powerful it will hurt, but don’t let that scare you, it’s a good hurt. I say that because the effect has such an impact on those telling it (and hearing it told) that you will feel every inch of their relief and their strength.
It begins in Boot Camp. Terrence W. Edwards is Sgt. Williams, a hard-edged drill Sergeant who bears the burden of training these young scared kids. It’s his job to make them into killing machines in a mere 18 weeks. I never thought about that before. What a difficult job, knowing the high percentage of soldiers who won’t come home and doing his best to prepare them for anything. He tries desperately to change the odds so more will return home. Edwards is excellent in the part, his forceful voice and authoritative stature is so real. When he commands 1000’s of pushups from Scooter (James Bane)…heck I was ready to hit the floor myself.
They are on their way to Vietnam where the war is raging, the drugs are plentiful, the air is thick and hot, and the women are exotic. They also know the body bag count is the highest since WWII.
We take the journey through the grim realities of war with a group of guys who build relationships out of necessity and fear. They give each other nicknames, like Professor (Christopher DeVinny) because the character reads a lot. Little John (Jonathan “Doc”Farrow) who is anything but little, and Baby San (Dan Bridges) who is small and young. Little John had the voice of reason when everyone got a little crazy and Baby San, well he needed a little help because he really was a kid and surely would end up doing something stupid that would get everyone killed. He was so sweet; I loved his great smile. The professor reads Herman Hesse and stays away from the other soldiers as much as he can, trying to escape the hardship of knowing that the friend you have today will most likely be gone tomorrow.
The scene between him and the Doctor (Jaimyon Parker ) whom he finally befriends is very endearing, as are the scenes of the boys partying and having fun in their barracks. Although, in the end the drugs and alcohol left them with more to deal with when they came home. One could understand the reasons. “There’s nothing to lose by doing this” attitude was a simple way to escape what could be waiting around the corner. They are surrounded by death and destruction, at times having to clean up the bodies of American shoulders, shattered to pieces. Or, having to look into the eyes of the very people they are forced to kill without thought. But surprisingly, this difficult story moves gracefully though all of the experiences with some comical flair. It’s interesting, and a bit disturbing, with good artistic direction. The audience seems comfortable and yet emotionally moved. Good lighting effects and the use of video make it pleasing and add some dramatic tone. Although the stage was small there was so much passion streaming from the stage, it made it seem huge.
I can’t think of a better time for this play to be reborn, there are a lot of men and women coming home from the Mid-East, and life is going to be hard for them. Many soldiers were deployed for several tours, which was unheard of in the past. I am thrilled to know the USVAA will be there as a source for support. It’s a pretty darn good production. I was very impressed, I really was very pleased I had the opportunity to see it and to share that experience with you.
Conceived by John DiFusco who wrote the play along with the original cast which included himself, Vincent Caristi, Richard Chaves, Eric E. Emerson, Rick Gallavan, Merlin Marston, and Harry Stephens with Sheldon Lettich
Directed by; John DiFusco
Cast: James Bane, Dan Bridges, Christopher DeVinny, Terrence W. Edwards, Jonathan “Doc” Farrow, Juliez Frazer, Trevor Scott, Jaimyon Parker
Runs Friday and Saturday, through Sat. Nov. 9th with shows at 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays (added performance at 3pm on Sunday, Oct. 13th for audience talk back with the cast and director), and 6pm on Sunday Oct 20th, 27th, and Nov 3rd
USVAA Theater in the AMVETS Post II Building,
10858 Culver Blvd. Culver City, CA 90230
For reservations call: 855-585-5185 or www.roguemachinetheatre.com