Playwright: D.C. Fidler
At: none too fragile theatre at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave. ( entrance at May and Aberdeen streets ) Tickets: NoneTooFragile.com 330-962-5547; $35. Runs through: Aug. 31
The phenomenon we now call post-trauma stress disorder was first employed in dramatic literature by Sophocles circa 441 BC.
So extensive a history of tragedy based in revelation of long-concealed atrocities has rendered audiences justly familiar with the narrative arc evidenced in this Akron, Ohio import, but playwright D.C. Fidler's mission is to tell us a STORY, by gumTWO stories, in factand he sees no shame in enlisting every available assisting factor toward its completion.
Our first story spotlights Weapons Specialist Jason Wynsky, who began suffering nightmares after having been wounded in Afghanistan. ( The play is set in 2010. ) In order to determine whether this "expensive resource" ( the U.S. Army's term for its workforce ) can be trusted to carry out his duties, his superiors have ordered him to undergo psychiatric evaluation at Walter Reed Hospital, where the play's second story commences. It seems his examiner, Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Caplan, was once a combat infantryman, himself, in the Viet Nam wara conflict long ended, to be sure, but as Wynsky's memories of his battlefield experience gradually assume sharper focus, Caplan finds his own slumber increasingly troubled by buried recollections and their consequences.
Our author may present us with only two actors onstage, but their accounts encompass an array of victims likewise scarred by the fallout of faraway terrors: fellow GIs ( some barely out of their teens ), estranged parents, betrayed wives, gay sons ( in the age of don't-ask-don't-tell ), martyred rescuers, unexpected comforters, a toy dinosaur named T-Rex and a dog named for the commander-in-chief. A clutter of books and tschotkes in Caplan's officedisarray reflecting the career soldier's imminent retirementfurther facilitates Fidler's careful placement of expository landmines amid the seemingly-harmless initial banter.
Given the short arrival time allotted the none too fragile theatre company before opening in rental quarters at Chicago Dramatists on this second stop in a three-city tour, a certain pacing hesitation on its first night was inevitable. As wise platoon sergeants inspire the confidence of the troops under their command, however, Sean Derry's confident direction, Brian Kenneth Armour's evocative soundscape and fully-engaged performances by David Peacock and Travis Teffner ensure our unswerving allegiance as we follow these two lost men through the darkness perpetrated by the "Boogieban"the latest in a line of deceptive sobriquets associated with enterprises based in risk, death and liesright up to the abreactive climax that points the way to, if not peace, then survival.