The American Soldier
I made slow progress out of Zoo Theatre after the performance of Douglas Taurael’s play The American Soldier because of audience members, some quite emotional, who wanted to shake Taurel’s hand.
That is a testimony to the power of many of the things said in the show. It is also a tribute to Taurel’s fine performance of this series of monologues.
Taurel has created a play about Americans who went to war, some out of patriotic duty, others because they were conscripted. The words are derived from the letters of the soldiers and their relatives written during wars from the American Revolution to the more recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They record the soldier’s homesickness, comradeship and terror of battle. They also show the anxieties of relatives and how difficult their return home can be.
Taurel gives each voice a sensitive, moving presence, whether that’s a soldier in Vietnam or a parent anxiously waiting for news of a son’s fate. He is utterly believable whether he is playing an amputee or a soldier in training or someone smoking dope before a battle in Vietnam.
This isn’t a show that takes a position on the rightness of any of these wars. It is simply a deeply compassionate representation of those involved, the sacrifices they have made and the courage they have shown.