Semper Fi – a review of “A Few Good Men”

By Claire DeMarco, ‘Burgh Vivant

Lance CPL Harold Dawson (Ryan Patrick Kearney) and PFC Louden Downey (Michael Patrick Trimm) are in jail, accused of murdering one of their fellow marines, PFC William Santiago (Ryan Bergman). Santiago dies as a result of a hazing meant to “get him back in line,” not to kill him in Aaron Sorkin’s “A Few Good Men.”

Lawyer Daniel A. Kaffee (Doug Harris) is assigned to take the case. Kaffee leans toward plea bargaining. In prior case, his motto, “Let’s get this situation concluded as soon as possible” kept him from digging too deep. Lawyer and analyst Joanne Galloway (Alison Weisgall) looks at the crime in a different light, believing that there is more to this story. The investigation widens as Kaffee and Galloway dive deeper, peeling off the layers of the initial crime, looking for its core.

Sam Weinberg (J.Alex Noble) is Kaffee’s right hand man in preparing their case.

The trial involves all levels of the military, including commander, Lt. Col. Nathan Jessup (Burke Moses).

Did Dawson and Downey act on their own or were they coerced? Is this a basic case of a beating gone very wrong or is there more to this than meets the eye? Will they reveal the truth? Can they handle the truth?


Kearney and Trimm are strong as the two accused marines who stand behind “unit, corps, country and God.”

Harris evolves from a flip lawyer who uses his wit as a tool to come to an easier, faster solution to a (still flip) but grown up taking responsibility and believing in his decisions.

The first reference to Weisgall as the “lady lawyer” sets the tone for how she initially responds to the male-dominated environment she finds herself in. Her character develops as she interacts with Harris in working together on the case.

Moses plays Jessup consistently as a tough, no nonsense commander, a manipulator and controller.

Weinberg adds comedy relief during his interaction with the defense team.

An excellent production with a well-balanced, talented cast!

Scenic Designer Ryan Howell creates a subtle backdrop of a wooden wall and a few desks and tables as needed in various corners of the stage. Minimal scenery and props allow the characters to be the focal point of the production.

Note: A large sign positioned above the stage, flashing the date and location of an upcoming scene is welcome when the location and time changes frequently from Washington, D.C. to Cuba.

Kudos to choreographer Mariel Greenlee for interspersing the military ensemble drills at various points in the production. These drills provide action to the production and reinforce the regimentation and obedience inherent in the military.

Excellent direction of the first production of Public’s 45th season by Marya Sea Kaminski.


“A Few Good Men” is a production of Pittsburgh Public Theater at the O’Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15222 and runs from September 12 to October 13, 2019. For more information, click here.

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