On route to a courtroom confrontation that exclaims “You can’t handle the truth!” there’s plenty of tension and drama in A Few Good Men, the latest offering from Drayton Entertainment at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse.
Based on the play by Aaron Sorkin, who’d write the screenplay for the film that stars Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men opens the 2020 season, now on stage until March 22. It tells the story of military corruption and a quest for justice, culminating in the famous courtroom exchange between Cruise’s Lt. Daniel Kaffee and Nicholson’s Col. Nathan R. Jessep.
“‘You can’t handle the truth’ is such an iconic lines. That certainly goes through your mind, whether you’re going to do it in your own particular way – it’s sort of almost a coolness, a ritualistic thing,” said Benedict Campbell, who plays Jessep in the Drayton adaptation. “If you don’t deliver the goods … you don’t want people to be let down, but to be inspired.
“I tend to go with not necessarily what Jack Nicholson did, but what the script demands at that moment. It’s a sort of high-pressure situation. And he (Jessep) is beginning to feel pressure. He’s someone who’s managed to keep his cool through the entire play, actually loves the fact that he remains calm and cool in all circumstances with his Marine background, but is just driven to the point where he can’t control himself anymore.”
Campbell is no stranger to courtroom dramas, having last season appeared as one of the jurors in Twelve Angry Men. A veteran performer with more than 40 years under his belt, he’s played a variety of roles in stints with National Arts Centre, Stratford Festival and the Shaw Festival, among others.
For this production, he’s joined by Tyrone Savage as Kaffee, the Tom Cruise role in the film, and Shannon Currie as Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway, a brilliant Internal Affairs lawyer with a passion for justice who joins Kaffee’s legal team, the role played by Demi Moore in the film.
The drama hinges on whether the murder of a young marine was the work of a couple of colleagues at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay or part of a more system retribution known as a “Code Red.” The two marines accused of the crime are defended by Kaffee, a lawyer with no courtroom experience who typically opts for plea bargains. It looks like a simple case of soldiers behaving badly until evidence suggests that high-ranking officials may have ordered an illicit disciplinary measure known only as a “Code Red.” When fellow lawyer and naval investigator Galloway suspects a cover-up, the legal team comes up against the highest authorities, and puts the entire marine code of honour on trial in order to solve the case.
“The story unravels who’s guilty, who’s the real guilty party, as opposed to the young men – is it the commander in charge? And that plays out in court,” Campbell explained.
A Few Good Men was Sorkin’s first play. Then an unknown, he’d go on to acclaim with TV hits such as The West Wing and The Newsroom, and celebrated movies like the Oscar-winning film The Social Network, Steve Jobs, Charlie Wilson’s War and Moneyball.
The Drayton Entertainment production of A Few Good Men runs through March 22 at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse. Tickets are $49.50, or $29 for youth under 20, available by calling the box office at 519-747-7788 – toll free at 1-855-drayton (372-9866) – or online.