By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Three separate actions drive the narrative of Jim Tommaney's Desert Storm, an ambitious but uneven drama that combines fact and fiction. The stories involve soldiers on the war front, their concerned parents, and President George H.W. Bush's deliberations over sending troops into Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. The odd combination of heartfelt emotion and tedious political talk causes a juxtaposition in themes that is too off-balance to create a cohesive structure.
The political scenes are ineffective largely because we know what happened during the first Gulf War and don't need to be reminded with long-winded philosophical conversations on the merits of military conflict. Yet Tommaney has placed more than half the content in the president's war room, a mistake considering that the fictional accounts of the war's effect on others are more interesting and engaging. The soldiers doubt their place in the war, find and lose love, and fear they will be forgotten in death. Parents grieve in disbelief and ponder unthinkable acts. This is raw, unflinching antiwar fare, highlighted by Carlos Guerrero and Carlos Alayeto as the father and soldier(s), respectively.
On the back wall of the square stage (neatly tucked into the corner of an old warehouse that is surprisingly comfortable despite the lack of air conditioning), there is a picture of Mount Rushmore in which presidents Washington and Jefferson are elevated slightly higher than Lincoln and Roosevelt. While the picture's presentation is undoubtedly a reflection of the fissure between the soldiers/families and the president, it's also an indication of the lack of balance and structure in the play.