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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at the Laura Pels Theatre

By Matt Windman

  Stephen Lang/PH: Sara Krulwich

A contemporary drama should not be automatically branded "political theater" merely because it deals with war. Beyond Glory, a one-man stage adaptation of Larry Smith's first-hand interview exploration of Medal of Honor recipients now playing at Roundabout Theatre Company's Off-Broadway space, is a fine example of a piece of theater that focuses primarily on the American military experience, but has little or nothing to do with political theater.

Stephen Lang, who developed the show and portrays eight soldiers within the course of 80 minutes, apparently did not set out to make any kind of statement about World War II, Korea, Vietnam or even Iraq. Lang has, instead, created a stimulating homage to Smith's work, designed to honor these soldiers by bringing their dialects, personalities and physicalities to life. These are, after all, not leaders of war, but merely the ordinary men who fought on the battlefields. These guys could have been soldiers or civilians, poets or plumbers.

Lang, who portrayed a marine colonel last season in John Patrick Shanley's Defiance, convincingly transforms himself into different soldiers merely by dipping into a trunk full of some miscellaneous clothing and props in between monologues. As directed by Robert Falls, Lang also benefits from meticulously designed lighting, sound and multimedia projections.

Of course, the fact remains that Beyond Glory is an octet of monologues. Were it not for the overwhelming stage presence of its bicep-built, tattooed actor, this could have easily became another dreary one-person show. For once Lang is revealed onstage as John William Finn, who fired a 50-caliber machine gun during Pearl Harbor, he will easily win over your attention and admiration.

Laura Pels Theatre, 111 West 46th St, 212-719-1300, $56.25-66.25. Tues 7:30pm, Wed 2 & 7:30pm, Thurs-Fri 7:30pm, Sat 2 & 7:30pm, Sun 2pm. Thru Aug 19.


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