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The Eyes of Babylon
Former Lance Corporal Jeff Key's meditation on his tour of duty in Iraq is eye-opening in more ways than one. His definition of the "honor""proclaimed in the Marine Corps slogan of "Duty, Honor, Country" comes into direct conflict with the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on homosexuality in the Armed Forces. His spirituality, his humor, his All-American boyishness and the detail and clarity of his perceptions give range and weight to this highly relevant one-man play.
The play begins with a wake-up call from Key's mother on 9/11 telling him to turn on the TV and expressing her concern that the young Marine will be going overseas. As deployment draws near, Key accepts the puzzling fact that he is going to fight not Osama, but Saddam, and is shipped to Iraq. Much of the play is taken directly from his diaries and includes not just a litany of combat but the people, children and animals he meets along the way. Although he is dedicated to his vocation as a Marine and his fellow soldiers, he doesn't hesitate to "out" the Cruels among them, who enjoy tormenting children and animals. One of the most moving segments is his final elegy to a fallen comrade.
The play reverberates beyond Iraq when Key remembers his hard-working parents and the anxiety they felt every April at Income Tax time. These memories are triggered by a soldiers's perception of what those hard-earned tax dollars are being spent on and for.
After receiving an administrative discharge from the Marines because of his decision to be honest about his sexuality, Key's values as a patriot are as embedded as his career as an actor/writer. The Eyes of Babylon shows its journal roots and could use some dramatic shaping but Key is a skilful writer with a poetic passion for what he has to say and an engaging stage presence. Yuval Hadadi directs with a keen eye to keeping his protagonist in motion and the story moving.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co. >Click image to buy.
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