“I’ve arrived,” I thought, as I settled comfortably into my seat for the Lantern Theater Company’s production of HEROES. “There’s nothing more I could possibly need. I have a chair to sit on, vines covering the pastorally quaint, stone walls, even a dog to keep me company. I’ve made it. I’ve arrived.”
However, the longer I sat with the set of HEROES, the more I began to feel uneasy about my overhasty decision to find comfort and calm in the picturesque patio. It all began to feel like a memory gone to seed; a frozen snapshot of “Home” that felt more clinical than comfortable. When the lights dimmed and the actors took their places, I began to feel a sense of anxiousness, an unsettling.
I suddenly wanted out.
When the lights came on, illuminating the wizened faces of Dan Kern (Gustave), Mal Whyte (Philippe), and Peter DeLaurier (Henri), I realized that, despite appearances, these men had not settled happily into their home, they’ve been forced there unwillingly. They’re stuck and not just on the veranda of this retired soldier’s home, but also in the stage of life they’ve happened to find themselves in.
HEROES, written by Géarld Sibleyras and adapted by Tom Stoppard, explores the bittersweetness of age, human mortality, and those aforementioned memories that have turned to rot. Placed before the audience is three men who have served their country and, therefore, served their purpose. When the war ended and life continued on, only to be followed by an even bigger war, these men struggled to find their destiny outside of the combat zone.
Under the direction of M. Craig Getting, DeLaurier, Kern, and Whyte deliver nuanced, mature performances. These forgotten soldiers are funny, profound, and deeply moving.
HEROES bring to the table heady questions on the human condition and the human’s need for purpose, intimacy, and companionship. Their insatiable desire for their next big adventure (a grove of poplars that lie just beyond a cemetery) can be interpreted as their yearning for their next stage in life: Death. However, I’d like to argue that the grove of poplars can mean many things to different people at varying stages of their life. Perhaps it is Heaven and the Afterlife to some, maybe a new job or an affordable home, or maybe, just maybe, it’s a nice place to have a picnic.
HEROES runs now until June 9, 2013. Tickets are $20 – $38 and are available online at lanterntheater.org or by calling the Lantern Box Office at 215-829-0395. $10 student rush tickets are available 10 minutes before curtain. Lantern Theater Company is located at St. Stephen’s Theater, 10th & Ludlow Streets.
I’ll see you at the theatre!