Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
Photographs contributed by Adam Brannon
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Field Report from the Tamarind production of THE CAINE MUTINY COURT MARTIAL by Lynn
Loschin, December 2nd 1998.
Last night, I went with Barry and Fern Caldwell to see the play at the Tamarind in Los Angeles. It was a long drive in the wet weather, but well worth it. I was unfamiliar with the play or the novel (I've read most of Wouk's books, but not this one -- although now I probably will), and I'd never seen the Bogart movie (although now I probably will). I think these were advantages in seeing the play though. It's an interesting story -- IMO a courtroom is not the easiest way to explore a narrative like this, but it worked quite well due to the strength of the script, a counterintuitive theme, and the fine performances.
The lead in this play isn't the accused, but his lawyer. Scott Burkholder -- not a familiar name but a face that looked very familiar from roles in Crimson Tide and on The X-Files -- was really a standout. But you guys don't want to hear about the rest of the cast, so I'll get to our two guys.
James Morrison plays the key character of Queeg, the commanding officer relieved by the accused. Playing a "military guy" it was hard not to expect a McQueen-like portrayal, but James' version of Queeg was so far from that I forgot all about the comparison very quickly. This is a role where a lesser actor would have done more and probably would have failed by going too far over the top. James played Queeg with an undercurrent of the paranoia we hear the other characters talk about, but until -- and even during -- his pivotal scene he never pushed it so far that we could no longer believe he was who he was supposed to be, the officer who had successfully controlled his paranoid tendencies for 14 years. As observers we walked a fine line between pity and anger, just like the officers sitting on the court-martial. (Oh, his hair is McQueen length again, and need I say he looked quite lovely in uniform? No I didn't think I needed to...)
Stan Kirsch plays Lt. Keith, one of the naval officers who testifies about Queeg's freaky behavior. This isn't a big role -- the character appears in two scenes, once for his testimony and again in the final scene of the play -- but it was a nice departure for Stan. It required a maturity of presence and a un-Richie-like demeanor that he accomplished nicely. The uniform was also a nice change from the T-shirt and jeans we usually saw Richie wearing on HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES. He looked very handsome, as well as older and self- confidant.
After the play, Barry, who had met James last year when Barry was apprenticing on PREY, checked with the stage manager, who said the best place to wait for the cast was in the lobby. It wasn't long before James came out. I had missed Fantasticon '97 so I met him for the first time. Well, he's beautiful, obviously, and also extremely nice and easygoing. Some catch-up news was exchanged on mutual friends and Space fans -- he'd seen Glen and Jim recently, and I guess Glen and KC are going to try to see the play next week. Barry and James talked about his wife's film on the festival circuit.
While Barry and James were talking, Fern asked me if I was going to say hi to Stan. I sort of shrugged -- if he didn't remember me from Anaheim, I wasn't going to approach him. I didn't feel comfortable doing that. I told Fern he'd probably remember her from Anaheim. He (and entourage) accidentally almost mowed Fern down coming out of an elevator. I had my back to the hallway where the actors were entering the lobby. Maybe Stan saw Fern, or saw my Celtic triangle hair thingie (the only Highlander-ish thing I was wearing), but as soon as we looked over he recognized both of us -- to my surprise and very much to his credit.
Stan was incredibly friendly and really delightful, much more relaxed than I remember him being from backstage at Anaheim. He seemed extremely glad to have some HL fans there, shaking hands and thanking us both. He asked us how we found out about the play, and we told him it was from one of the CD member's web pages and announcement. We asked about the cruise, and he said that he'd had a great time. He chatted a little about the play, and he thanked us and shook hands *again* before we took off.
The play was very good and the chats afterwards were really pleasant and gratifying. If you have a chance to go before the show closes next week, I'd really recommend it.