Military lawyers uncover a high-level conspiracy as Playhouse Merced presents the gripping courtroom drama "A Few Good Men" this weekend at the Merced Arts Council.
"I think this show can question what the truth is to some people, and how different it can be for someone else," actor Joe Hypes said. "It also questions how far someone will go to get the truth, and once you get it, was the journey worth it?"
"A Few Good Men" tells the story of Lt. Daniel Kaffee and Cmdr. Joanne Galloway who discover a potential cover-up involving Lt. Col. Nathan R. Jessup and a squad of soldiers in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Written by Aaron Sorkin, the play was first produced on Broadway in 1989 and later became a 1992 movie starring Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and Jack Nicholson.
Playhouse Merced's production is directed by Bill Cook, and features Central Valley actors Hypes as Lt. Kaffee, Laura Hopp as Cmdr. Galloway, and Jim Kocher as Lt. Col. Jessep.
"I really loved the story arc that Kaffee takes in the show, because it was such an arc that I have become very familiar with," Hypes said. "It's a guy who is just sort of skating by in his life and is perfectly happy doing so, but through a certain course of events, he realizes that its probably not the best way to live, that maybe there is more to it, and he struggles a lot throughout the show in doing what is right, or taking the easy way out.
"It really sort of is about one man's attempt to hide the truth, and another man's attempt to find out exactly what the truth is. It's riveting, comical at times and just a really great evening at the theater."
Director Bill Cook is drawn to the play by the moral wrangling of the characters and the story.
" 'A Few Good Men' wrestles with the idea of what is morally and socially acceptable," Cook said, "based upon human values of right and wrong. The characters in the play do the right thing, because they are following an order, which is their only option as Marines. But morally, the actions they take is 'conduct unbecoming' of not only a Marine, but of any human being in today's society.
"I was intrigued by the underlying question of the piece, that of choosing between what is right and wrong," Cook said, "and the responsibility each of us have to others."
Hypes is excited to be part of a production that isn't a musical.
"Musicals are such fun to go to the theater and see, but sometimes its really nice to watch a full-fledged comedy, or drama, and watch a story unfold with just actors onstage delivering an insane amount of dialogue," Hypes said.
"I love going to shows like that. I find myself always engrossed. So any chance I can have to do a show like this, is incredibly appealing. This play is an actor's showcase.
"Be prepared to see some real acting here. To watch some of these guys work is just amazing and makes it worth seeing and makes it worth showing up every day for rehearsal," Hypes said. "There is a lot of heart and joy that has gone on in this process."
'A Few Good Men'
Opens Friday and plays two weekends through Oct. 7 at the Merced Arts Council, 645 W. Main St. Showings are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $19 for seniors and $10 for students. To get tickets, call (209) 725-8587 or go to the theater box office. This show is rated M for Mature audiences because of frequent coarse language and mature situations.