Aline Lathrop's deft two-hander, codirected by Ann Filmer and Miguel Nuñez and currently receiving a joint premiere production (with Atlanta's Synchronicity Theatre) at Berwyn's 16th Street Theatre, tackles the timeless theme of how war damages soldiers and makes it hard for them to adjust to life after war. But Lathrop makes one simple and less frequently employed adjustment that makes all the difference: she tells the story from the wife's point of view. The choice gives Lathrop an opportunity to explore more sides of a sadly familiar story. It also gives her tale a tighter focus; everything we learn about the returning soldier is through his wife's eyes. This gives the play a subjectivity that makes the more intense parts of the play—the returning soldier experiences violent night terrors—all the more terrifying.
Aaron Christensen makes a great returning soldier; he's quite convincing as a strong, damaged man desperate to hide his deep personal problems. But the play really belongs to Alex Fisher, who over the course of a taut 80 minutes displays a full range of emotions, from sweet, emotionally open wife, happy to have her man back, to guarded, psychologically armored woman coping with life in the same house as a trained killer with a hair-trigger temper. In less adept hands, such a story could lapse into mere melodrama or, worse, didactic preachiness. But Lathrop's writing has a disarming honesty about it; she presents the facts of the case and lets us draw our own conclusions. v