The Eyes of Babylon

  • Our critic's rating:
    June 1, 2011

    Review by Tulis McCall

    Jeff Key is a brave and creative man. Not only is he a Vet. He is a poet about his experience not only in Iraq but everywhere in his life. And this flies in the face of his looks. He is a rugged, fit ex-Marine who, when he mimes holding a rifle, makes it clear that handling weapons comes easily to him. He is also gay. This last tidbit is what prompted him to leave the Marines (after his tour of Duty) and become an activist for gays in the Military. He also set up the Medahi Foundation to support returning Vets as well as the people to whose door war was delivered. Jeff Key is busy.

    Now I would like him to become even busier. I would like him to take this one-man show and turn it into a play with other characters. Key is such a poet that within this show of his there are at least a dozen stories: the boy who adopts him for a day; the foxhole conversation; the dog that hung around the camp; his mother’s call on September 11th; makeshift memorials on the front; stories of his family. Key packs a punch with his writing.

    Where he packs less of a punch is with his performance. He is simply not as skilled in this area, and the discrepancy is clear. He is giving it everything, but everything is not always enough. Sincerity does not always good theatre make!

    I am reminded of Journey’s End that was produced here a few years ago. While I found the main character waaaaaaay over the top, I was completely engaged in the various men who swanned through the Captain’s dugout. I found out about the war because of the characters, not because of the facts.

    Because this is a one-man show, it depends on the one man to be agile and versatile. While this is a story that we all should see, because most of us forget the daily toll of dead and maimed service personnel, it would be a better story if Key lobbed a grenade into its center and blew the structure apart. The pieces would find them selves a form and structure.

    This is a story I wanted to hear and ultimately ended up missing.

    (Tulis McCall)

    "One of the finest solo shows I have ever encountered."
    Erik Haagensen for Back Stage

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