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One Veteran’s Story: A Review of The Warrior

Judith Mahoney Pasternak Aug 12, 2008

The Warrior
A Play by Jack Gilhooley
Produced by the Theater of the First Amendment
Staged by the New York International Fringe Festival
At CSV Milagro Theater, 107 Suffolk Street, through August 21
All tickets $15

Tammy (Marietta Elaine Hedges) was named after a movie. Giselle (Mary Lechter) was named after a ballet. Across that cultural divide, in high school, they were friends (and sometimes rivals).

Tammy joined the Army and went to the first Gulf war. Giselle went to an Ivy League school. Tammy fell in love with a fellow soldier, married him, was honorably discharged from the Army, had a baby, joined the Army reserves, and was called back to active duty for the war in Iraq.

Two tours of duty later, she’s out again and back in the United States. She has Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Her abusive husband has left her for their daughter’s young teacher and is suing for sole custody of their daughter. Giselle has found her again and wants to tell her story in a documentary, and Tammy, ravaged by rage and regrets, has come to Giselle’s sound studio to be interviewed.

That’s where we meet her in The Warrior, a one-act, two-character play by Jack Gilhooley currently on view as a production of the Theater of the First Amendment of George Mason University and presented by the New York International Fringe Festival. As Giselle, offstage in the sound booth for the duration of the play, interviews her, Tammy falls apart, recovers, falls apart again, weeps for the daughter she may lose, and excoriates her husband, his lover, the war, the Army’s treatment of veterans, and, occasionally, Giselle.

But in fact, she offers few details about the war, often skittering away from the subject. She talks about telling her father, a Vietnam vet, that “Iraq is Vietnam on crack.” “Vietnam was Vietnam on crack,” he answers, and that’s the end of that conversation. She’s more explicit and more scathing about her husband’s affair, and spends much more time talking about it.

Gilhooley clearly intends to suggest some equivalence or connection between the brutality of war and that of Tammy’s macho, ex-soldier husband. But the nature of the connection is left unclear and unexplored, and in the end, Tammy’s focus on her abandonment makes The Warrior more a story of a woman’s heartbreak than of a heartbreaking war.

The Warrior is playing through August 21 at the CSV Milagro (a.k.a. Venue 19 of the Fringe Festival), 107 Suffolk Street. For performance dates and other information, call (212) 279-4488 or see fringenyc.org or theaterofthefirstamendment.org.

Judith Mahoney Pasternak’s travel writing can be found on her blog, “The Political Landscape,” at political-landscape.blogspot.com. All rights reserved.

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