War play launches spectacular production
After approximately six weeks of preparation, Marshall Theatre put on “Ajax in Iraq,” written by Ellen McLaughlin and directed by Janet Gupton.
The play is centered on the tragedies of war, telling the story of Ajax, the infamous Greek soldier who lost his mind and a paralleling story about a group of soldiers in modern day Iraq.
“One of the reasons we selected the play was that we were looking for a play that would fit with the PLACE theme, ‘Legacies of War,’” said Brenda DeVore Marshall. Marshall is the department chair and professor of theatre and communication arts.
“The other reason was that this is a year we normally do a classical Greek or Shakespeare, and as we were looking at the way the other things, this season we’re unfolding this show.
“It sort of worked because it has characteristics of, and borrows from, Greek theatre, including the character Ajax. It has some of the format of the Greek theatre, along with contemporary, very contemporary theatre.”
A significant theme in the production is how gender affects the soldiers’ experiences in the military.
Everyone in the production gave breathtaking performances, but no one more than Allison Halley, who portrays A.J., a female soldier.
From the moment that Halley stepped onto the stage, she immediately stole the scene through subtle, and extremely believable, emotion. Halley’s character is very complex and could only have been played by a powerful actress.
I would like to say that this was Halley’s performance of a lifetime, but I shall refrain for that statement until she, inevitably, wins an Academy Award.
“Everyone has had to work really hard on this show because it is so meaningful. The themes discussed in ‘Ajax in Iraq’ speak to experiences of both active military and veterans.
“As a PLACE event, it really discusses what war means and examines it from different perspectives.
“I hope that people will come away with some type of personal understanding or new ideas,” said junior Sammi Palmer, who portrays the role of Gertrude Bell/Judy.
When watching the play, it is hard to believe that the show was only cast in the end of September.
Rehearsals began in October, where the actors and production team worked tirelessly to put on a spectacular program.
“I thought that the show for an actor is very hard and it would be very hard for them to portray these characters and they completely sell it a thousand percent, and it’s very believable and that’s what makes it so powerful,” freshman Conner Wells said.
“Ajax in Iraq” contains strong language and disturbing situations, so it may not be appropriate for children or the faint of heart.
Paige Jurgensen / Columnist
Paige Jurgensen can be reached at email@example.com