The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial: Courtroom Drama at its Most Intense

By Phoebe Greyson

It looks like an open and shut case. During the Second World War, an officer aboard a US Navy destroyer-minesweeper in the Pacific seizes control of the vessel on the grounds that the ship’s captain is mentally ill. The officer, Lt. Stephen Maryk, is court-martialed. Navy psychiatrists are prepared to testify that the captain, Philip Francis Queeg, is perfectly sane. Maryk is certain of a conviction and 15 years’ imprisonment. “Maybe I should plead guilty,” he tells his defense attorney, Barney Greenwald, just before the start of trial. “I think I can get you off,” Greenwald says.

Theater
The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
Wed, Thu, and Fri, Jul 13, 14, and 15, 7:30pm
The San Miguel Playhouse
Av. Independencia 82
200 pesos

So begins Herman Wouk’s gripping 1954 courtroom drama, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, based on his Pulitzer-winning 1951 novel, The Caine Mutiny. Three years after its publication, the novel was turned into a movie starring Humphrey Bogart as Queeg, but the court-martial was compressed into the film’s final minutes. Shortly before the movie went into production, Wouk dramatized the court-martial in a full-length play; it became one of the biggest hits of the 1954 Broadway season. (Wouk, born in May of 1915, turned 101 last month.)

Now Wouk’s play is to be presented at the San Miguel Playhouse with seven male actors reading the 12 speaking parts. The reading, before a live audience, will be recorded for future broadcast, or, more accurately, Internet radio podcast. Directed by Chuck Rubin, the production is the first in what is hoped to be a series of live radio dramas. Caine features an all-male cast, a rarity for San Miguel, and is particularly suited to radio drama in that, apart from the final scene, it takes place entirely in a military court.

Wouk’s superb ear for human speech and sharp eye for detail make Caine one of the finest, and most tense, courtroom dramas ever written, and the play has remained in the standard repertory since its debut in 1954.

The cast will include veteran actors Fil Formicola and Howard Platt. Don Krim, who recently enacted seven roles in the British farce Bullshot Crummond, will appear as Queeg. There will be three consecutive performances, from Wednesday, July 13, through Friday, July 15, at 7:30pm at the San Miguel Playhouse, Av. Independencia 82. Reserved seat tickets are 200 pesos and can be purchased any day but Tuesday between 10:30am and 2pm, at the Galeria Ensueños, 57A Mesones (corner of Relox), or at the theater one hour before show time. The theater provides secure parking and taxi concierge service.

 

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