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STAGE REVIEW : ‘G.R. Point’: Revival of Veteran Viet War Play

Since 1982, when David Berry’s “G.R. Point” was first produced in Los Angeles, Americans-in-Vietnam stories have proliferated on screen and stage so much that the revival of Berry’s play, at the Callboard, may seem redundant. If you want to hear something about the war that hasn’t been expressed elsewhere, you won’t hear it at the Callboard.

Nevertheless, “G.R. Point” treats its old themes perceptively. Berry confronts the awful exhilaration of war, as well as the difficulty of maintaining an easy-come, easy-go reaction to the steady stream of corpses that emerges from the front lines. His characters look and sound as if they were there, and his sense of structure is sturdy, if seldom inspired.

“G.R. Point” refers to a “graves registration” center, to which bodies are brought and processed before they’re shipped out of the combat zone. Setting the play one step away from the line of fire was a stageworthy choice; the stage can’t demonstrate the actual combat as well as film can, but it does provide the space and time for the characters to talk about what they’re experiencing.

The play focuses on the experiences of Micah, a newcomer from Maine who wants to tell everyone--including his mother back home--the truth about what he sees . . . until he sees too much. Craig Sheffer has caught Micah’s streak of Yankee arrogance and reserve, as well as the smudges on that streak that invariably develop under the pressure of the situation.

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The other characters, more seasoned soldiers of various races and temperaments, are delineated with just as much care. Particularly notable are Scott Plank as the company’s Rock of Gibraltar, Kris Kamm as the youngest and scrappiest soldier on the block, Ronald William Lawrence as the resident cynic and bully and Jay Pickett as the officer who tries so hard to be one of the guys.

A. Clark Duncan’s set is properly dreary. But George Gizienski’s lighting is unnecessarily subdued, and the sound design could have used a dash of imagination. Otherwise, Howard Fine’s staging is a perfect match for the play: solid and affecting, but somewhat short of electrifying.

At 8451 Melrose Place, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Tickets: $17.50-$20; (213) 466-1767.


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