It’s definitely a good sign when there is a line to enter a theatre. Hey, Hey, LBJ! proved to be the reason. Performed by Army reporter David Kleinberg over 40 years after his post as a combat correspondent, the play came across exactly as intended, raw with emotion.
Regardless of your position on the Vietnam War, it is a war that will always remain heavily dissected and evoke passionate opinions. Yet, unless you were there, one really has no idea what happened in those tropical jungles turned into battlefields. Mr. Kleinberg presents a theatrical account of a series of events ranging from tactical errors to hilarious mishaps, but most importantly the reality of how much this one particular incident affected so many.
Youth lost, lives decimated, exorbitant amounts of capital wasted and questions arose as the years continued with no end in sight. However, during the year that David covered those moments, he also became self-aware of his position.
Hey, Hey, LBJ!
by David Kleinberg
at Main Stage – Goethe Institut
812 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Details and tickets
However, what really intrigued me about Mr. Kleinberg’s performance was Mr. Kleinberg himself. As his black eyes pierced every member in the audience, his voice remained soft; yet, strong enough to fluctuate at the drop of hat for the next scene, the next character, the next laugh, with only one wardrobe change to illustrate a poignant point. All eyes were fixated on him throughout the entirety of the play. He never faltered, but once I did see his eyes water. Forty eight years later and the pain is still evident.
What has happened to those who fought so valiantly? Were they forgotten, mistreated, misused, and cast out? Perhaps, as so many of our veterans suffered from unsettling memories that still remain present today. As the play came to an end, the applause was genuine; and as David tapped on our heartstrings with his final gesture, he ended with a smile on his face. Maybe because now we too understood, slightly, just how traumatic the Vietnam War truly was.
This play deserves your attention.