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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 2, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 40
The Art of Bad Men an unusual story brought to life with verve
Arts & Entertainment
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The Art of Bad Men an unusual story brought to life with verve

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

THE ART OF BAD MEN
MAP THEATRE
(AT INSCAPE)
Through October 17


We're all pretty used to POW films focusing on how hard it is/was to be a prisoner as a U.S. soldier. We don't usually get a focus on enemy soldiers, but the world premiere play at MAP Theatre, The Art of Bad Men, by local playwright Vincent Delaney, brings us a trio of German POWs held in the pasturelands of Minnesota!

The 'art' mentioned in the title refers to the fact, a true story, that German POWs in that Minnesota prison camp put on a Moliere play while incarcerated there! I guess it was because they could, and to ward off the tedium and have something to do. The bad men are, by definition, the German soldiers. They are a trio of different kinds of men: a stalwart Nazi (Ben McFadden) trying to keep working on escaping and undermining their captivity, a musician (Ben Burris) who entertained the German soldiers and never saw real action, and a boy (Sean Schroeder) recruited to the Nazi Youth - too young to know what the whole war was about.

The soldiers are guarded by a not-very-good U.S. soldier (Brandon Ryan) who had to pull strings to be allowed to be a soldier at all. But then, where are these prisoners going to escape to? The rolling hills of Minnesota? How far can they run?

The local farmgirl (Grace Carmack) falls for the musician, though it's likely that their relationship is doomed from the start. And the Nazi has an immigrant-Americanized sister (Peggy Gannon) who is disappointed in her brother's acceptance of Hitler's propaganda, while he denies her existence.

The entire experience of the evening is unified by director Kelly Kitchens' ingenious staging, which includes choreographed scene changes with music, and fluid fun set pieces, like a bale of hay turned into a car! The show is at the old INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) building, in the space known as INScape (815 Seattle Blvd. S., near 5th Ave. S. & S. Dearborn St.), and is set in the round. Many audience members are practically in the soldiers' laps. It is a very intimate space.

The cast is uniformly solid and brings this unusual story to life with verve. Even so, while Delaney keeps us interested in the characters and their struggles, I continue to wonder whether this is a story that compels in the telling.

The story is true. The research that Delaney did included a trip to Germany to interview living ex-POWs, which is mirrored in the play. The idea that they put on a Moliere play as prisoners is startling (there is a real picture of them doing it). MAP Theatre does a bang-up job of presenting the play.

Before going, I worried that the subject matter would be dark and unpleasant. It is far more entertaining and even funny, at times, than I expected. Ultimately, it works as a piece of theater, even if the reasons for writing it are more obscure than Delaney might wish. The technical aspects are quite wonderful also, from the inventive costuming by Jocelyne Fowler and the wonderful lighting touches by Tess Malone. The set by Brandon Estrella works to create the simple, stripped down barracks.

For more information, go to www.map-theatre.com or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/829261 or call 800-838-3006.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters.
More articles can be found at miryamstheatermusings.blogspot.com.

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SLGFF OPENING NIGHT FILM: An interview with Freeheld co-star Ellen Page
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Seattle Women's Chorus presents
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with Guest Star Rebekah Del Rio (10/23 & 24 ONLY)

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Pacific Northwest Ballet: 'See the Music'
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Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival celebrates 20th Anniversary October 8-18
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The Art of Bad Men an unusual story brought to life with verve
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