‘My Father’s War’ 

May 10, Nadine Baum Studios

For a little hamlet in the hills, Fayetteville keeps its fair share of professional theater companies. The two-year-old TheatreSquared has stepped it up a notch with an original production. Capping off a polished, if sometimes unimaginative, season for the company, “My Father's War” represents a welcome change of pace.

Written by one of the company's co-founders and starring another, the play uses the recollections of buck Sgt. Arthur Herzberg to examine different interpretations of World War II as seen through the searching eyes of his daughter. If some war veterans remain tight-lipped about their experiences, Herzberg seems to have never stopped talking, filling his daughter's ears with the stories on family car trips and around the dinner table. His recollections all play out like dark jokes, the punch line usually being their author's survival, and you can detect a touch of animosity toward those stoical John Wayne types in their telling. Herzberg claims not to have experienced John Wayne's war. His war was more like a Jerry Lewis picture.

The veteran's son-in-law, Bob Ford, wrote the script after visiting Normandy, where Herzberg had stormed the beach on D-Day before bumbling/surviving through a variety of misadventures all the way to the Battle of the Bulge. In the process, Herzberg earned a purple heart and a bronze star. The playwright knew from the beginning that his play would star Herzberg's daughter — his wife, Amy Herzberg — and that Amy would play the role of her father. Upon visiting the scene of a battle in France to pay tribute to one of her father's more haunting experiences, Amy finds herself donning a green helmet and living out a whole series of her father's stories, some of which she had never heard before.

The cast is typically wonderful, with a heartfelt performance by Herzberg as its center. Three cast members — Jason Engstrom, Justin Scheur and Kris Stoker — play a variety of roles, from captured Germans who willfully misunderstand Herzberg's spotty commands to shit-talking Texans whose courage sneaks up on you. Another member of the cast, Abbey Molyneux, makes a spectral late entrance that you're unlikely to forget. The set design and lighting is beautifully minimal, sparse enough to accommodate the play's many scene changes but iconic enough to register as more than your typical dark wood.

Save an unnecessary nod to the Duke's brand of heroism late in the play, we're left with a real sense of the haplessness of war, and Herzberg's experiences are all the more chilling for their humor. Which is more true, the wind-blown feather of Jerry Lewis or the obstinate Gibraltar of John Wayne? “My Father's War” would be less honest if we weren't always laughing.

The play continues from Thursday through Sunday.



From the ArkTimes store


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Theater Reviews

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: On "Beyond Scared Straight"

    • I need to find a scared straight program for my 14 yr old daughter here…

    • on July 20, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation