Clague Playhouse’s production of ‘HEROES’ is nuance theater at its best


Some theater is designed to dazzle. Some theater is designed to amaze. Some theater is designed to entertain. Some theater is designed to educate. In the case of the Clague Playhouse production of Gerald Sibleyras’ (translated by Tom Stoppard) “HEROES” it is the gathering of three of three veteran actors who have spent their careers studying the subtle nuances of fine acting.

Philippe (Ron Newell*), Gustave (Robert Hawkes) and Henri (Bob Goddard) are three World War I French army officers in their seventies living out their days in the comfort of an old soldiers home. They spend most of their days on an outdoor terrace haranguing each other until one day Gustave come up with an idea.

Some theater is designed to dazzle. Some theater is designed to amaze. Some theater is designed to entertain. Some theater is designed to educate. In the case of the Clague Playhouse production of Gerald Sibleyras’ (translated by Tom Stoppard) “HEROES” it is the gathering of three of three veteran actors who have spent their careers studying the subtle nuances of fine acting.

Philippe (Ron Newell*), Gustave (Robert Hawkes) and Henri (Bob Goddard) are three World War I French army officers in their seventies living out their days in the comfort of an old soldiers home. They spend most of their days on an outdoor terrace haranguing each other until one day Gustave come up with an idea.

He is quick to share the plan with his two co-conspirators. It is an expedition to a far off hill that they can see through the grave yard and is where the popular trees sway in the breeze. Soon they are gathering supplies for what they figure to be a three day journey. Blankets, food, binoculars and rope are procured as they throw their energy into this, their last hurrah.

The only problem is that Philippe has shrapnel in his head which causes him to pass out at inopportune times. He also believes that the Mother Superior is out to kill him because his birthday is the same as another patient’s and they do not wish to hold two birthday parties on the same day. Gustave is a social paranoid suffering from agoraphobia whose only human contact has been his two friends and the nuns that run the home and in order to make the expedition more challenging insists on bringing along a stone dog statue that weighs a couple of hundred pounds. Henri is a semi-cripple who is going blind but seems to be the voice of reason among the trio.

Using the military training that is deeply embedded in their fading memories they map out suitable routes, requisition supplies on the sly and set the date and time of their escape. Each part of the plan is carefully set forth, argued over and finessed until all three agree...almost.

For those theater goers who wish to see three excellent actors working off of each other this is a must see show. Volumes of dialog are replaced with subtle yet knowing inflections that only years of being on local stages can create. It is nuance theater at its best.

“HEROES” runs through February 9, 2020 at Clague Playhouse located at 1371 Clague Road in Westlake, Ohio. For tickets and information visit www.clagueplayhouse.org or call (440) 331-040.

He is quick to share the plan with his two co-conspirators. It is an expedition to a far off hill that they can see through the grave yard and is where the popular trees sway in the breeze. Soon they are gathering supplies for what they figure to be a three day journey. Blankets, food, binoculars and rope are procured as they throw their energy into this, their last hurrah.

The only problem is that Philippe has shrapnel in his head which causes him to pass out at inopportune times. He also believes that the Mother Superior is out to kill him because his birthday is the same as another patient’s and they do not wish to hold two birthday parties on the same day. Gustave is a social paranoid suffering from agoraphobia whose only human contact has been his two friends and the nuns that run the home and in order to make the expedition more challenging insists on bringing along a stone dog statue that weighs a couple of hundred pounds. Henri is a semi-cripple who is going blind but seems to be the voice of reason among the trio.

Using the military training that is deeply embedded in their fading memories they map out suitable routes, requisition supplies on the sly and set the date and time of their escape. Each part of the plan is carefully set forth, argued over and finessed until all three agree...almost.

For those theater goers who wish to see three excellent actors working off of each other this is a must see show. Volumes of dialog are replaced with subtle yet knowing inflections that only years of being on local stages can create. It is nuance theater at its best.

“HEROES” runs through February 9, 2020 at Clague Playhouse located at 1371 Clague Road in Westlake, Ohio. For tickets and information visit www.clagueplayhouse.org or call (440) 331-040.

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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

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