By Walter Ruff
Many years ago I remember asking my dad what he did in his war; his answer was silence. Sean Huze went away to war and has returned with something powerful and disturbing to tell us. A line from the 10,000 Maniacs song Gun Shy says it best; the Army “is good at making soldiers but not as good at making men”. Young soldiers with the best intentions of serving their country find themselves killing innocent men, women and children just as real as the families they left behind. Theatre like The Sand Storm: Stories From The Front brings the real truth of war to the forefront ignoring for the most part the politics and instead providing a realistic glimpse of the death and destruction that is war. Leave your opinions about the Iraq War at home and listen to the stories of ten soldiers who have a sad and worrisome tale to tell.
As helicopters thunder overhead we hear one by one ten soldiers chronicle what fear and death in a far off land can do to the minds of young men taught not to have feelings or opinions. These are haunting accounts that are delivered by actors clearly moved by the material and I found myself buried in their emotional turmoil. Sean Huze’s play superbly directed by Brett Smock does not preach or promote any agenda; instead it reminds us that the victims of war are not only the dead and the maimed but also those who survive with obvious emotional injuries. Each member of the ten actor cast delivers a strong riveting performance that will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about war and modern warfare. Sound Designer Matt Rowe brought each soldier’s gripping emotional tale right to your seat along with the sounds of the desert battlefield. The stage design by Jen Price and costume design by Debra Kim were perfect, nothing to muddle the imagination so that the power and atmosphere of the story was front and center. It is not often the facts and personal experiences of a conflict are exposed before the sands of time have hidden just how nauseating and heinous a war really was. Metro Stage has brought us The Sand Storm: Stories From The Front at time when it is not yet too late to save some lives and young minds from a lifetime of horrible memories. I highly recommend Sand Storm not only to readers of DC Theatre Reviews but also to those who send our men and women into battle. As Sean Huze points out the dead were not the only causalities.
Written by Sean Huze. Directed by Brett Smock. Set Design: Jen Price Lighting: Matthew J. Fick Costumes: Debra Kim Sivigny Sound Design:Matt Rowe Stage Manager: Kevin Laughon. Cast: Joey Collett, Michael Kevin Darnall, Benjamin Fernebok, David Greenfield, Jonas Grey, Craig Klein, Keven Robinson, John Slone, Theodore M. Snead, Darius A. Suziedelis.