Special to the Star Tribune
By John Townsend

"A Few Good Men" / Photo by George Calger, provided by Urban Samurai

Aaron Sorkin is in the news lately for his screenplay for the hit film,

"The Social Network."

He also created the "West Wing" TV series. But in 1989 Sorkin wrote what rates with Herman Wouk's "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial" and Saul Levitt's "The Andersonville Trial," as one of the mightiest American plays about the military-justice system. That drama, "A Few Good Men," also became a film nominated for the 1992 Best Picture Oscar.

But frankly, Urban Samurai Productions enthralling stage revival at the Sabes Jewish Community Center is more visceral and satisfying. Obsessively rugged masculinity and its unctious dynamics are rendered with beguiling nuance by director Matthew Greseth's impeccable cast of 16.

Inspired by actual events, "A Few Good Men" explores the actions surrounding the mysterious hazing death of a gentle hispanic marine at the Guantanamo Bay naval base.

The splendid Colleen Somerville crackles as Joanne Galloway, the military attorney who intuits criminality up the command chain but is stonewalled by an all male bureaucracy. Nicholas Leeman is utterly transformational as Daniel Kaffee, her careerist associate who is thrown to mediocrity.

Though Derek Ewing and David Freeman are chilling as the underlings implicated in the death, each exquisitely reveal how their characters' youthful malleability has been exploited by their commanding officer, Lt. Col. Nathan Jessep.

Zach Curtis, deliciously monstrous as Jessep, is devilishly matched with Mike Rylander as Kendrick, his dispensationalist Christian sidekick who smolders with cruel conviction. Patriotism has morphed into theocratic sadism.

John Townsend writes regularly about theater.

Who: By Aaron Sorkin. Directed by Matthew Greseth for Urban Samurai Productions.

When: Friday & Saturday at 7:30pm. Sunday at 2pm. Through Oct. 10.

Where: Sabes Jewish Community Center, 4330 Cedar Lake Road So., St. Louis Park

Tickets: $10 - $16. (612) 396-2025. www.urbansamurai.org.


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