Heroes
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Kim Taylor

Heroes, now playing at Ross Valley Players, is a story of three World War I veterans living in an old soldiers’ home near Paris in 1959. Directed by James Dunn, who served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, Heroes is a poignant comedy about how these three old veterans plan their escape from their retirement home.

Philippe (Russell Edmund Lessig) and Henri (Alex Ross) have been at the home for over 20 years. Gustave (Wood Lockhart) is the wisecracking newcomer who has only been there six months. He’s always making fun of Henri calling him “a born enthusiast. When he’s dead, he’ll be an enthusiastic corpse.” But we soon realize that Gustave’s cutting wit and his initiating an escape plan is just a way to cover his own fears and insecurities which can easily overwhelm anyone as they get old.

But it’s these very fears and insecurities in all three men that make this a very funny yet heartwarming comedy. Philippe passes out every five or ten minutes and awakens shouting: “We’ll take them from the rear captain.” At times the audience feels that these three vets are still processing the trauma of war, but as the story unfolds, the audience realizes that the vets have come to terms with their war experiences long ago, and that the insecurities they face are those faced by everyone in their twilight years.

We laugh at their elaborate escape plan, which includes a large stone dog that Philippe swears moves and Gustave befriends. We also laugh at the almost surreal way their minds work, yet we understand how their minds replace things that are missing in their lives.

All three actors are topnotch when it comes to evoking laughter from the subtlest facial expressions. Watch the faces of all three men when Philippe explains the true meaning behind his “take them from the rear” shout. You’ll laugh so hard it will bring tears to your eyes.

For tickets or more information call (415) 456-9555 or visit www.rossvalleyplayers.com.

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