Re:Union is a complex work that takes philosophical, ethical, and political elements. The resulting mix is a play that tells the psychological and moral struggle of a woman, Emily Morrison (Alexa Devine), the daughter of Quaker pastor and teacher of ethics Norman Morrison (Evan Frayne). Her life is marked by a single event that happened when she was a baby: The death of her father, who in 1965 burned himself to death outside of the Pentagon to protest the involvement of the U.S. in the Vietnam war, and the collateral effects that such involvement had brought – such as deaths of children and bombings of schools.
Despite the fact that Norman Morrison’s immolation did not stop the war, the memory of his death outside of the Pentagon seems to be still fresh and present in the mind of Robert McNamara (Andrew Wheeler), the U.S. Secretary of Defense. More than 40 years after that incident, Emily -now an adult- decides to meet with Robert McNamara and to follow her father’s steps to seek for justice again, not only to protest against the involvement of the U.S. in the war in Iraq but also to show that the immolation of his father was not in vain and should not be forgotten.
Despite of Emily’s efforts to persuade Robert McNamara to withdraw from the war in Iraq -and to hold him liable and instil guilt for the death of her father, the U.S. Secretary is a statesman with a tough personality that does not bend easily unto Emily’s moral and ethical pressure. Moreover, he attempts to turn Emily’s arguments every time in order to prove to her that Norman Morrison committed a coward act, and that she was victim of that – raising in Emily’s head doubts about her father’s -and her own- ethics and morality.
The story also analyzes flashbacks of Norman Morrison’s life and teachings. They are portrayed as having been heavily influenced by Soren Kierkegaard’s philosophical work “Fear and Trembling”, which analyzes from a philosophical and ethical point of view the biblical story of the patriarch Abraham when he attempted to sacrifice his son Isaac. Some elements of Norman Morrison’s understanding of Kierkegaard’s work play a key factor to understand the reasons that got him to take the decision of immolating himself the way he did; which turns to also have an impact in the interaction between Emily Morrison and Robert McNamara.
This play, directed by John Langs and written by Sean Devine, is an outstanding example of superb acting by all actors involved, as well as of magnificent use of lights, visual effects (achieved with the use of on-stage cameras and recordings) and sounds that sprinkle notes of thrill and suspense. The whole play runs for over 2 hours, including an intermission, which feels somewhat overrun. Although this overrun does not really enhance the overall show experience, it does not take away from the quality of the acting nor effects. It is still a very highly recommended play.
Re:Union is running from October 21 to November 12, 2011, at the Pacific Theatre, located on 1440 – West 12th Avenue.