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BEST STAGE PRODUCTION Minneapolis 2005 - Flags

A month before last fall's presidential election, Mixed Blood Theatre rushed Jane Martin's Iraq War play, originally intended for the Guthrie, to the stage. It featured Chris Mulkey as Eddie, a gutbucket patriot proud that his son is off killing the enemy--until that son is killed, and Eddie goes into a spiral of questioning every value about America that he once held dear. Mulkey nailed the role, as did his real-life wife Karen Landry as his spouse. The play was delivered as a Greek drama, complete with a chorus, and Eddie's downfall ostensibly mirrored the imperial hubris that got his son killed in the first place. Looking back, the play itself was probably a little thin, a little preachy, and a little didactic. That being said, it was also a work that moved its audience to tears. It felt as though we were experiencing a crucial moment up here in the frozen north, and that somehow the power of this drama was going to be the beating butterfly wings that would somehow stop the madness. It wasn't true, of course; it almost never is. But this was a pivotal stage work in 2004 because it jammed a wire right into the light socket where art and politics intersect, and showed how the power of public performance can lay bare the anguish behind our collective hopes.

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