Majestic Theater, West Springfield, MA
through April 6, 2014
by Shera Cohen
Three men, each of whom has experienced some of the worst human horror imaginable, find themselves residents in a senior citizen home for veterans. They live in a lovely site in France overlooking an expanse of near-pristine nature. Each seems well-to-do, dressed in suits of the late 1950’s era. On the surface their lives in these last years have turned 180 degrees from their four decades earlier on the battlefields in Europe in WWI. This is “Heroes.” Each man was a hero and, although current circumstances are rather mundane and even boring, each man is still a hero.
Director Keith Langsdale, along with a lot of help from set designer Greg Trochlil, have created a surface tranquility as the antitheses of the inner, sometimes overt, turmoil of the gentlemen. While the play is chock full of more dialogue than movement on stage, the repartee between the members of the trio is brisk, crisp, and seemingly unrehearsed. In fact, slowing down a bit is recommended in order to give the audience a moment to process many of the characters’ quips and asides.
J.T.Waite (a regular at the Majestic) shares the stage equally with Walter Mantani and J.C. Hoyt. It is a cliché term, but the actors do fit the roles perfectly. While their characters aren’t friends, they are comrades who face the very real problems of old age together as a force to be reckoned with. Plotting a “getaway” from the residence keeps them busy in a fantasy world that pleasantly revs up the action in Act II.
The audience cannot but like these former soldiers, although it is not necessarily to be enthralled with or fully understand them. Even today, many do not understand the reasons for the war supposedly “to end all wars.” How can an audience fully comprehend such conflagration or the men who faced it and lived through it? “Heroes” offers a brief yet in depth look at survivors, depicted well on the stage at the Majestic.