The Brig at The Odyssey
Harrowing! Sub-Human! Sadistic! A ballet choreographed to march music….mesmerizing! Other thoughts, positive and negative will register in your mind as you watch the prisoners of The Brig arising in the morning and returning to their beds that same day. In two hours, you will live, work and peer over the barbed wire into a "normal" day with Prisoners 1 to 10 as they wash, clean and make due with their Marine jailers who have great expectations which the prisoners must meet….or else!
The play, written by Kenneth Brown and first performed fifty-five years ago, is based on the author's own incarceration in a Marine corps brig during the Korean War. It has been retrieved and remounted by producer Ron Sossi. Together with Director Tom Lillard, they have assembled a cast of nineteen to march, run, scramble, fetch and do anything else demanded of them. Julianne Elizabeth Eggold's realistic set design, seen through the barbed wire, gives us spare bunk beds with a Marine Manual on each. The noise, tumult and shouts can, at times, be deafening and the sights can, at times, be grotesque and make us very uncomfortable. This environment is created with exceptional performances by everyone involved; their seriousness of purpose fuels a theatrical event of gigantic proportions; one which you will not soon forget!
As the play develops, a strange thought will enter your mind: Who are the real prisoners of the brig? Those who must take the orders or, possibly, those who must guard them. One of the many rules the prisoners must follow is to request permission to cross certain white lines: in and out of the compound, to enter the latrine, to go to the supply closet. With each request, a compliance must be given for the person to pass. Only God knows how often this request is made within the play; how much more it happened during the 50's.
Punishment, usually a fist to the belly, is meted out for the least infraction. Watch, as you somehow get used to it and after awhile, it hurts your psyche less and less. Strange!
The play is based on The Living Theatre's 2007 Obie award-winning production and has been hailed by critics for its realism, great timing and its exposure of an area of Marine life normally never seen. It is harsh! It is raw! It is an outstanding contribution to our understanding of prisoners and their treatment. The Brig has now been extended to April 13. Do go!
The Brig, Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90025, Tel. 310-477-2055 Tickets: $25 – $30, Plays Wednesday – Saturday @ 8:00 p.m.; Sunday @ 2:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.odysseytheatre.com