Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
French playwright Gérald Sibleyras has the benefit of a translation by Tom Stoppard, one of the wittiest authors now working in English, but these scenes from the lives of three aging World War I veterans ramble and, even with a run time of just 90 minutes, the play seems overly slow and doesn't justify its length.
The setting is an isolated terrace of a veterans' home where crusty Gustave (Ralph Cosham), kindly Henri (Michael Tolaydo) and brain-injured Phillippe (John Dow) sit and talk, and talk and talk. They share reminiscences of past loves and describe new infatuations, recount bygone moments of glory, plot their escape from the grounds (should they have a picnic or should they sail to Indochina?) and occasionally veer into surrealism - most obviously when Phillippe shares his belief that the stone statue of a dog that sits beside their bench is actually alive. (The exposition is rather clumsy, to the point of stating on two occasions that the year is 1959.)
MetroStage and director John Vreeke have brought together a cast of three actors who demonstrate their skill with a subtle look, a specific posture or a character-defining line, and they show an comfortable chemistry as an ensemble, but they are fighting an uphill battle.
Colin J. Bills' lovely scenic and lighting design provide more detail than one might expect, from the different colors of the blocks in the stone walls to the rear projection of dappled light suggesting the sun shining through tree blossoms.