My evening’s other serious stage work was NoMads Art Collective‘s “So Proudly We Hailed.” Nobody can fail to recognize the title’s origin in a line from the national anthem. And flag idolatry is crucial to this series of sketches on American patriotism and gun culture. That’s evident as you walk into Theatre on the Square’s Stage 2, with a large Old Glory forming the backdrop. It’s both decor almost a third actor, in addition to Drew Beyer and Ki-Jana C. Moore. It drapes itself figuratively over what is clearly a collaborative effort, judging from the credits and thank-yous in the printed program.
Thus, “So Proudly We Hailed” is a theatrical stew, with all ingredients stirred by the show’s cast to suit the vexed theme of gun violence at its intersection with patriotism — sometimes in synchronization with individual fulfillment, sometimes at odds with it.
Long ago, George F. Will gave an early collection of columns the happy title, “The Pursuit of Happiness and Other Sobering Thoughts.” The thoughts of Jackoway and his colleagues on that fabled pursuit and everything it entails are overwhelmingly sober. Indeed, some of the sketches burst into angry flame inexplicably. Delineation of character was vaguer than it had to be, even given the sketch format. Humor around the theme was fleeting in comparison: The goofiness of a young man wanting to buy a gun so he could smoke marijuana out of the barrel received an uninflectedly vehement response. At other times, the dialogue was frivolous, but rarely in a way you might characterize as light, or with a keen satirical thrust.
Three sketches were efficient enough to strike home: A wordless struggle between the two men over an empty chair, a dialogue about marksmanship at a shooting range, and an officious orientation session about dealing with an “active shooter situation.” But the sequencing and substance of the show as a whole did not have me saluting.
Theatre on the Square – Stage Two:
627 E. Mass Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
- Sat 08/20/16 6:00pm
- Wed 08/24/16 6:00pm
- Thu 08/25/16 9:00pm
- Fri 08/26/16 7:30pm
- Sun 08/28/16 4:30pm