Actors theatre offers comedy of camaraderie
"Room, terrace, tepid soup, then beddy bye" — this is how Gustave describes his everyday retired life in Gerald Sibleyras' "Heroes," and this is fairly spot-on, when he and his fellow "inmates" aren't plotting their escape.
Sandy Actors Theatre opened the three-man comedy on Friday, Nov. 10, at its theater, 39181 Pioneer Blvd.
The play opens with pithy provincial music playing over the setting of the back terrace at a French retirement home and three veterans: Gustave, Henri and Phillippe, played by actors Jim Butterfield, Carl Coughlan and Daniel Robertson.
Gustave is an ostentatious former aristocrat, Henri a somewhat quizzical, crippled poet, and Phillippe serves as the narcoleptic mediator of the two, constantly passing out from a piece of shrapnel in his head and waking by screaming "We'll take them from the rear, Captain!" — always at the most comedically inappropriate moment.
All three are constantly complaining about their confines, admiring a line of far-off poplar trees, moving around a 200-pound stone dog statue named Porthos and discussing their pasts and present in military terms.
"They're so stately, poplars — but supple, bending before the wind," Gustave comments during a moment of harmony.
"Unlike us," Phillippe counters.
The trio even plans to use war tactics to defend their secluded back terrace from the other residents they fear will try to take it from them.
After Phillippe comes to fear one of the nuns will replace him at the home, the three hatch a plan to pack some sacks and journey to the yonder poplars — a compromise between pitching a picnic in a nearby clearing and escaping to Indochina.
They treat their excursion like war — their enemy being complacency.
This is somewhat hindered by not only their inability to follow a leader and Gustave's desire to bring Porthos along with, but their individual ailments.
"Here's the situation: I'm not well, Gustave is tolerably deranged, the dog weighs a ton, and we've got a long way to go," Phillipe comments as the three argue over yet another wrinkle in their plan.
"You forgot to mention that Henri is Lame," Gustave adds.
"And you're lame," Phillippe consents. "Good! So where's the problem? What's to keep us from at least having a go?"
This sums up their personalities, and is a great example of the type of humor the play is founded on.
Butterfield, Coughlan and Robertson embody the dry-humored and dapper veterans well, and really make the production.
It is not a very long production, but just long enough to be a delightful dose of comedy and theater for an evening out.