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Previewed 18 August 2005, Opened 6 September 2005, Closed 17 December 2005 at the Haymarket Theatre in London
The West End Premiere Production of Aaron Sorkin's contemporary American classic play A Few Good Men in London starring Rob Lowe with Suranne Jones, John Barrowman and Jack Ellis and directed by David Esbjornson.
Can You Handle The Truth? In A Few Good Men a rookie Navy lawyer is assigned to defend two Marines on trial for the murder of one of their platoon members. He expects a plea-bargain, and a cover-up of what really happened. But, prodded by a female member of his defense team, the lawyer eventually makes a valiant effort to defend his clients and, in doing so, the play raises the questions of what it means to have honour, dignity and humanity in an increasingly complex world.
The cast for A Few Good Men in London stars Rob Lowe as 'Daniel Kaffee', Suranne Jones as 'Joanne Galloway', John Barrowman as 'Jack Ross' and Jack Ellis as 'Nathan Jessep' along with Michael Beckley, Peter Brooke, Nick Court, Jason Durran, Dan Fredenburgh, Les Kenny-Green, Jonathan Guy Lewis, Will Huggins, Stephanie Langton, Andrew Maud, Robert D Philips, Patrick Poletti, Charlie Roe and Michael Wildman. The production is directed by David Esbjornson with set designs by Michael Pavelka, costume designs by Elizabeth Hope Clancey, lighting by Mark Hendeson and sound by Ian Dickinson.
Rob Lowe is perhaps best known nowadays for his role in the popular television drama series The West Wing. Rob Lowe first came to prominence in the 1980's as part of the 'Brat Pack' when he starred in films such as The Outsiders, About Last Night, Youngblood, St. Elmo's Fire and Square Dance. Suranne Jones is best known for playing the role of 'Karen McDonald' in TVs Coronation Street. John Barrowman has been seen recently playing 'Captain Jack Harkness' in Dr Who, his London West End stage credits include the musicals Anything Goes, Sunset Boulevard and Matador. Jack Ellis played prison warder 'Jim Fenner' in the television series Bad Girls. Aaron Sorkin made his Broadway debut with A Few Good Men aged 28. He also wrote the play's screenplay for the film which starred Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and Jack Nicholson. Aaron Sorkin's writing and producing credits include the television series' Sports Night and The West Wing which features Rob Lowe in the cast. Interestingly, ten year's previous to this production, the Haymarket Theatre hosted the West End transfer, from the King's Head fringe theatre, of D M W Greer's debut play Burning Blue about the hounding of gay men in the US armed forces.
"Anyone who watches The West Wing on television will know that Rob Lowe is extremely good in his slick, Brat Pack way at delivering Aaron Sorkin's quick-fire, funny-smart dialogue. So that's one good reason to go and see Sorkin's play A Few Good Men at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Lowe stars as Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, a young (slightly too young for Lowe, who is 40) US Navy lawyer who has to defend two marines accused of murdering a sickly fellow marine at the Guantanamo Bay military base. It is a serious matter, more serious now that Guantanamo has become a military prison. But there is still room for jokes, some very funny and deft ones." The Sunday Telegraph
"A Few Good Men is a gripping courtroom drama and a riveting expose of what US Marines are made of - and it sure ain't sugar and spice. It was Aaron Sorkin's first hit on stage and later on the big screen, ten years before The West Wing became one of the best things on telly and made boyish, pixie-featured Rob Lowe (one of the President's men) into a pinup. Lowe is not just a pretty face; he's an impressive actor, in command of Sorkin's machinegun repartee and dialogue as polished - and occasionally as hard-hitting - as a Marine's boots. He plays Daniel Kaffee, the Harvard-educated military lawyer, smart but still wet behind the ears and certainly more interested in softball than hard justice. By the end - you guessed it - he earns his moral stripes and proves himself to be a worthy son to a brilliant lawyer father in whose shadow he's always felt obscured. A Few Good Men does not have the same storyline as the 1992 film starring Tom Cruise and Demi Moore. Sorkin's stage drama centres around the death of a Marine bullied at Guantanamo Bay. Some of the characters teeter towards stereotype and the shape of the piece is conventional to the point of formulaic, but it's nevertheless witty and well crafted. Short, sharply focused scenes build up to a climactic court martial when all hell breaks loose... David Esbjornson's superbly drilled production has the military precision and immaculate timing you'd expect to see on a Marine parade ground. Heightened and exaggerated as it is for the sake of drama, it nevertheless creates a splendidly convincing macho world of absurdly rigid spines, shaved heads, insanely pressed uniforms, snipers hanging from helicopters and brainwashed chanting. It's a man's world in which weakness and compassion are against the rules. Moreover, Sorkin suggests it's a world in which soldiers are trained to obey unquestioningly rather than to think, which may be fine for those who finish up as cannon-fodder but it explains some of the recent front-page stories about the abuse of captives in Abu Ghraib... The courtroom drama is not just alive; this one proves it can still kick ass." The Mail on Sunday
"As fans of The West Wing will know, Aaron Sorkin doesn't do slow. The Emmy-winning writer creates dialogue that is meant to be spoken in a state of perpetual motion, speedily articulated by smart men and smarter women as they hurtle down corridors and crash through swing doors... Does David Esbjornson's production of A Few Good Men match this velocity? Thanks to Rob Lowe's starry presence, most of the time... Despite the ultra-topical setting, the playwright has cleverly resisted the temptation to update. There may be no specific references to Abu Ghraib or the current situation at 'Gitmo', but the subtext of responsibility, decency and honour shines through. It is not an antimilitary play, acknowledging that disapproval of the armed forces is a luxury fostered by those very bodies, yet it rejects cruelty, secrecy and the overweening God complex of the powerful man... Rob Lowe knows exactly what is expected, and... he has the charisma to carry it off. His comic timing is great." The Sunday Times
"Aaron Sorkin's 1989 play was written before 9/11 and the use of the Guantanamo Bay naval base as a prison for terrorist suspects. Wisely, Sorkin hasn't updated his plot. No need. The tale of how a soldier died because of a Marine 'Code Red' - harsh treatment to get men to shape up - shows excesses excused in the name of national security. Rob Lowe recently a star of Sorkin's TV hit The West Wing, excels in the role of a flip, hip, navy lawyer assigned to defend two Marines accused of murder. 'You're a used car salesman - an ambulance chaser with a rank,' says fellow lawyer Joanne. But together they set out to bring down the arrogant base commander - a performance by Jack Ellis that challenges Jack Nicholson's. This play is a surefire hit. Hurry to Haymarket Theatre." The Sun
Author Aaron Sorkin on how he came to write A Few Good Men: "In 1903, US President Theodore Roosevelt made a lease agreement with Cuban President Estrada Palma. In exchange for an annual payment of $2000, the US Navy would be able to use a prime piece of land near Guantanamo Bay as a rest stop and refueling station for its ships in the area. Decades later, the land would be given to the US in perpetuity by Castro's predecessor, Baptista, but when Castro took over, he wanted - for fairly obvious reasons - the US Navy the hell out of his country and he told us to leave. We said no. He told us again, this time with soldiers pointing kalishnikovs at us. We built a wall around the base - the fenceline - and created an elite unit of marines to stand watch. Marine Rifle Security Company Windward has been guarding the fenceline 24 hours a day, seven days a week ever since. And that's where my sister comes in. My older sister, Deborah, had just graduated from Boston University Law School, and, eager to get trial experience right away, signed up for a three year stint with the Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps. It was a Sunday morning when my sister called me. Debbie:: 'You're never gonna believe where I'm going tomorrow'. Me: 'Where?' Debbie: Cuba. We keep a base in Guantanamo Bay. A bunch of marines down there hazed a guy in their squad and it went bad. Something went wrong and this kid almost died. The accused are saying they were ordered to do it by a superior. Something called a Code Red.' I wished her luck and headed over to the Palace Theatre (in New York) where I'd been bartending for the last few months at La Cage aux Folles. And it was sometime during the first act, somewhere between the walk-in and the intermission, that I grabbed a couple of cocktail napkins off the bar and began writing A Few Good Men. It opened at The Music Box Theatre on Broadway a year and a half later and ran for 497 performances."
A Few Good Men in London at the Haymarket Theatre previewed from 18 August 2005, opened on 6 September 2005 and closed on 17 December 2005.