Quiara Alegria Hudes hones in on the details to examine the long-lasting effects of war in Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue. The tight one-act play by the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator looks at three generations of a Puerto Rican/American family who fight in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.
Robert Rosen's moving production at Park Square furthers that microscopic approach, as it gives us a series of arresting images that build up the tolls placed on the men and their family by the times overseas fighting.
At the beginning, Elliot Ortiz is getting ready to be shipped over to Iraq. The cocksure young Marine enlisted right after high school, and is thrilled, in part, to be experiencing something that his father and grandfather did. Neither of them talk much about their time in the military, and he hopes this shared bit of background will strengthen their relationships.
We next see Elliot on his first leave back home. He's got an injured leg and a growing addiction to pain medication, and still isn't able to connect to the older generations of men in his family.
As the story spirals forward and backward in time, we discover bits of what makes Elliot, Pop, and Grandpop tick. This is a play about the everyday experiences of soldiers: the monotony, bad food, quickly formed friendships, and moments of sheer terror. All the while, Elliot's mother Ginny watches over her men, using her own experiences as a nurse in Vietnam to help them with their physical and mental pain.
Give a lot of credit to the talented quartet of actors, led by 2013 Emerging Ivey Award winner Ricardo Vazquez as Elliot. His character is no super soldier, just a young man trying to do a job more important than making sandwiches at the local north Philly sub shop.
We see two very different versions of Pop from Rich Remedios. The one who speaks in letters back home during Vietnam is a much more expressive person than the one we see in the present day, silently drinking beer and avoiding real conversations with his son. Pedro R. Bayon brings a lot of grace to Grandpop, who played flute for his comrades in arms during Korea. Adlyn Carreras rounds out the company with a solid turn as mother Ginny.
The script takes plenty of cues from a musical fugue, where the same theme is repeated and adapted multiple times in a single piece. Director Rosen intensifies this to provide a theatrical experience loaded with layers that take plenty of time after the show to untangle.
IF YOU GO:
Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue
Through Oct. 4
Park Square Theatre
20 W. Seventh Place, St. Paul
For tickets and more information, call 651-291-7005 or visit online.